Archive for the tag “meat”

USDA to Ramp Up Drug Residue Testing for Meat and Poultry

 I have commented a lot about the antibiotics in meat issues (and I’m not done yet!)  That said, here is the news that came out today:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is beefing up testing for veterinary drug residues in the meat supply – and the new policy will take effect this  grilling season.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service today will announce a new, more modern testing system that allows the agency to test for dozens of drugs, pesticides, and other potentially harmful compounds simultaneously, instead of only testing for one or a handful of compounds in each meat sample.

The change is a significant update to an often-overlooked part of the food safety system. For the last several years much of the focus has been on microbiological contamination, but much less attention has been paid to drug and chemical contamination in the food supply.

In 2010, the USDA’s Inspector General published a report questioning whether the agency was doing enough to keep harmful drug and chemical residues out of beef products, but the issue has not received much media attention since.

“The new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.”

Using new multi-residue methods, FSIS will be able to test for 55 pesticide chemicals, 9 kinds of antibiotics, various metals, and eventually more than 50 other chemicals”

via USDA to Ramp Up Drug Residue Testing for Meat and Poultry.

What results it will have or how effectively it will be implemented remains to be seen.  I still believe that consumer protests directly to the grocery store chains will have the most impact (like they did with pink slime). If you get a chance to sign a petition or express your position to Safeway, Trader Joes, Albertsons or other grocers about being willing to buy only antibiotic-free meat and poultry, I hope you will do so.

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More on the Factory Farms Antibiotics Use Ruling

Although it’s highly unlikely the meat industry will be able to show its current practices are safe, it may be months or even years before the court-ordered hearings even happen:

“The judge put the burden on the pharmaceutical industry to prove that its products are safe. Here’s the money quote from the decision: “If, at the hearing, the drug sponsors fail to show that use of the drugs is safe, the [FDA] Commissioner must issue a withdrawal order,” i.e., ban the drugs…

“As yet, there is no timetable on when the court-ordered hearings will take place. And getting the FDA to initiate them in an election year—when both Big Meat and Big Pharma will be pumping money into campaigns—may be tricky. “[T]he fight is far from over: further court proceedings will likely be required to establish a timeline for FDA to act, and FDA could appeal the decision which could delay action for months or even years,” NRDC attorney Avinash Kar wrote in a Friday blog post.”
via Tighter Rules for Factory Farm Antibiotics? Maybe. | Mother Jones.

I wonder if public pressure can expedite this process?  No doubt there will be Internet petitions urging the FDA to move on the process.  But how much effect can those actually have?  Not to be cynical, but in an election year, probably not much.

Judge’s ruling may begin to curb antibiotics use with livestock

MSNBC and Time both reported recently on a ruling by Judge Theodore Katz, which could limit the use of antibiotics with livestock.  It’s not everything we could hope for, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“A federal judge ordered U.S. regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin proceedings unless makers of the drugs can produce evidence that their use is safe. If they can’t, then the FDA must withdraw approval for non-therapeutic use of those drugs, the judge ruled.”

via FDA must act to cut antibiotics from animal feed – Health – Food safety – msnbc.com.

And from Time.com:

“It’s not clear how big an effect the ruling will ultimately have on antibiotic use. The FDA has refused to put forward restrictions on drugs used specifically to prevent disease even if the antibiotics are delivered via food or water, and the ruling doesn’t address this either. Farmers may simply say that the drugs are being used to treat or prevent disease, and still go on using them. For its part the Animal Health Institute (AHI), a meat industry trade group, argued that the ruling would distract from an effort to collaborate with the FDA to stop growth promotion drug use. “It is unfortunate that time and resources will now be diverted to responding to the court decision,” the AHI said in a statement.

Still, even if Katz’s ruling is limited, it’s one more indication that Big Ag isn’t as all-powerful as it once was — and that change could be coming to American meat production.”

via Toward a Drug-Free Burger: Ruling May Curb Antibiotics in Meat – TIME.

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