FDA Ruled to Not Hold Hearings on Safety of Animal Antibiotic Use

The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City decreed on Thursday that there is no need for the US Food and Drug Administration to hold hearings pertinent to the safety of feeding antibiotics at sub-therapeutic levels.

The ruling has revoked the previous decision of two district court rulings from a 2012 case initially filed in 2011 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The group wants the FDA to hold hearings so that it can determine whether or not approval over the use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed needs to be withdrawn. The agency found in the late 1970s that the subtherapeutic use of the drugs in animal feed raises serious safety concerns. As a result of such hearings, industry would be required to prove that there is no safety risk attached with the use of these drugs.

"If they were not able to do that, then FDA would have to proceed with withdrawing the approvals for those drugs, which would effectively ban those drugs in animals for food production", said Keeve Nachman, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

According to NRDC, not providing the right of holding hearings to the FDA means that it will not be able to decide if it is required to ban the practice of feeding antibiotics to healthy animals for safety of human beings.

Mae Wu, an attorney with NRDC's health program, said low-dose, routine use of antibiotics on livestock is leading to development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Humans are getting affected as a direct result of that because the antibiotic-resistant bacteria is making its way out of the farm to houses of human beings.

Mae Wu