Today Representative Slaughter - Congress' lone microbiologist - reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). As before, the bill is an important effort to protect our health against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It addresses the core problem with FDA's approach to antibiotic use in livestock.
FDA's approach contains a loophole that allows the livestock producers to continue with business as usual. That's because FDA's approach seeks to eliminate only the routine use of medically important antibiotics day after day to speed up animal growth, but not the similar or overlapping routine use to compensate for often crowded and unsanitary conditions. As industry representatives have previously noted, the approach is unlikely to have a significant effect on livestock antibiotics sales.
The PAMTA approach, on the other hand, addresses all routine uses of medically important antibiotics in the feed and water of animals that are not sick. The routine use of antibiotics in livestock feed and water is contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance, which is rendering essential medicines less and less effective.
Meat can be and is being produced without routine use of antibiotics around the US and around the world. Perdue, for example, announced that it has eliminated all use of medically important antibiotics on 95% of its birds, with the remaining use limited to treating chickens that are sick.
Routine uses of antibiotics must be discontinued, and PAMTA would phase out such uses while continuing to allow use to treat sick animals and control disease outbreaks. Kudos again to Rep. Slaughter for continuing to lead on this critically important public health issue.