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New FDA Guidance on Factory Farm Antibiotics Too Little Too Late; 'Requirements' Completely Voluntary

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally taken what appears, at least on the surface, to be some formidable action with regard to the widespread problem of antibiotic overuse in factory farm animals, having recently issued new guidelines restricting their use. But the agency's controversial approach to dealing with this potentially apocalyptic situation falls short of actually accomplishing much of anything, say experts, as the FDA's new "requirements" are completely voluntary and come years after the emergence of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs."

The new FDA rules, suggests a recent report by The Week, are more of a nod to doing something than actually doing something, as they allow factory farms 90 days to decide whether or not they plan to voluntarily comply with them -- in other words, the entire industry has the option to completely ignore the new guidelines without consequence. Additionally, those companies that do accept the new rules will still be allowed three long years before having to fully implement them, giving plenty of wiggle room for skirting compliance as long as possible.

Once again showing his true allegiances, Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and former attorney for Monsanto, told reporters that making the new antibiotics rules voluntary will speed up the process of ridding them from the food supply. By avoiding all those troublesome "product-by-product regulatory proceedings," as Taylor refers to them, the FDA will somehow have the upper hand in reforming the way that antibiotics are used in factory farm animals.

None of this makes any sense, of course, as the only way to really stop factory farms from abusing antibiotics is to actually restrict them from using them, with penalties. But the FDA only spends time and resources pursuing raw milk farmers, backyard growers and others with little to offer the agency in terms of kickbacks -- the big guys always get a free pass when it comes to real food safety issues, and these latest bogus antibiotic recommendations are a perfect example of this.   


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