November 1, 2019


US advocate groups call for New York officials to ban use of antibiotics in livestock, poultry



Consumer advocates are now demanding US officials in New York to ban the routine use of antibiotics in healthy livestock and poultry due to concerns over the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, CNHI reported.


Groups including the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Consumer Reports and the Center for Food Safety have called for action on the part of state governments and restaurant chains, perceiving a lack of concrete actions to the problem.


It is understood that only California and Maryland have adopted antibiotic restrictions as demanded by the consumer watchdogs.


Still, the groups acknowledged that critical progress have been made in the poultry sector to reduce reliance on antibiotics on chickens bred for human consumption.


According to Blair Horner, NYPIRG's director, more fast-food restaurants are turning to sources that do not use animals administered antibiotics routinely. On the other hand, producers in the the beef, turkey and pork sectors have made "much slower progress."


The consumer watchdogs rated Chipotle and Panera Bread as "early leaders" in the effort to cut antibiotics in meat dishes. Outlets of both companies serve only beef raised without the routine use of antibiotics, according to Horner and Chuck Bell, programmes director for Consumer Reports.


Another company that has made good progress in the past months in reducing antibiotics in the meats it buys is McDonald's.


The advocates cited California and Maryland as trailblazers in the movement to curb the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. They are now pressing New York lawmakers to embrace legislation that mirrors what those two states now have on the books.


At the statehouse, Horner urged lawmakers to pass a measure sponsored by Sen. Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, and Assemblywoman Jamie Romeo, D-Irondequoit, that would limit the use of antibiotics in healthy livestock. The measure would require the state Board of Veterinary Medicine, the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Health to set the guidelines controlling the use of the antibiotics in livestock.


The New York Farm Bureau, a leading voice for farmers in the state, opposed the legislation, arguing that it is "dangerous and inhumane" to curtail farmers' efforts in combating outbreaks.


The bureau also contended the legislation would result in "negative health consequences" and increase the likelihood that antimocrobials -- agents that kill microorganisms -- would enter the food supply.


Steve Ammerman, spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau, told CNHI there is already significant work being done at the federal level to regulate antibiotics in food-producing livestock.


The consumer advocates estimated that more than 160,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections.


They also said nearly two-thirds of the antibiotics sold in the country are for use in livestock, with the cattle industry using more than any other sector.



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