Feedlot Animals Receiving a Double Dose of Antibiotics

June 18, 2012
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cornfeedFDA doesn’t seem to care.

FDA denied two Citizen Petitions (one filed in 1999 and the other in 2005) to restrict the use of certain antibiotics on farm animals. Last week, a federal judge ordered FDA to reconsider those denials, rejecting FDA’s argument that it was too time-consuming and costly to revoke the approval of antibiotics.

This follows an order from the same judge, which we reported on last March, to reconsider a ban on penicillin and tetracyclines on livestock for non-therapeutic reasons.

Let’s hope the judge can finally get the agency’s attention. According to a new report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, in 2008 FDA tested forty-five samples of distiller grains (DGs) and found antibiotic residues in 53% of samples, some in high amounts—over .5 parts per million (ppm). Subsequent testing has also found antibiotics in DGs.

Why are the levels so high? Here’s one possible answer: The antibiotics are already in the animals’ feed when the farmers receive it.

Ethanol is an alcohol made from distilled grain. Ethanol producers use antibiotics to keep the tanks from being contaminated with lactobacilli, bacteria that compete with the yeast and lower the ethanol yield. Contamination is common, so tanks are often inoculated as a preventive measure: penicillin, erythromycin, virginaiamycin, or tylosin are added during the distillation process, and the leftover corn mash—a waste product the industry calls DGs —is sold to cattle, dairy, swine, and poultry producers for livestock feed.

Shockingly, FDA has not restricted antibiotic use in ethanol production, but instead decided to treat the antibiotics as “food additives.”

So the animals that may end up on our dinner plates are receiving not only the antibiotics they’re given so they won’t get sick in the CAFOs, but also the antibiotics used by the liquor industry in the production of ethanol.

Food additives generally require FDA pre-approval. However, the report shows that neither the antibiotics companies nor the ethanol producers are following food additive provisions—thereby breaking the law—and that FDA is not enforcing. “Ethanol producers have full discretion over the quantity and frequency with which they dump antibiotics into their plants,” says the report, noting that ethanol production tripled between 2005 and 2010. “Antibiotic use also has undoubtedly increased, although currently the FDA does not appear to track antibiotic sales to ethanol producers, as it does sales for use in animals.”

Reps. Ed Markey and Louise Slaughter wrote to FDA asking what they are doing about enforcing the food additive provision and about the link between DGs and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “Antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are a grave public health threat that is growing worldwide,” they write.

As we previously reported, FDA has refused to prevent antibiotic use for animals for non-therapeutic purposes, instead asking industry to restrict use. Now it appears that animals are getting a double dose of antibiotics, and FDA once again is refusing to do anything about it—even though antibiotic resistance in humans is becoming a global crisis that could lead to millions of unnecessary deaths.

46 Responses to “Feedlot Animals Receiving a Double Dose of Antibiotics”

  1. Lydia says:

    God Bless all the aware people who have commented – we all agreed! Now let’s use our dollars to vote for our choice of healthy food. Please buy ORGANIC.

       0 likes

  2. Jenifer Parker says:

    So? Why NOT a class-action suit against the FDA for NOT enforcing the Judges’ decision to STOP USING THE AMOUNT OF ANTIBIOTICS?

       1 likes

  3. B. Talbert says:

    I am convinced that much of the work of the government is damage control and putting out fires
    to prevent the people from learning the truth and I think this pertains especially to the FDA and USDA. Animals raised in filthy conditions and fed substances that are disgusting will put those disgusting things into our bodies. These animals are riddled with parasites, viruses and bacteria. Because we are ignoring this problem we will reach a point where all the antibiotics will no longer work for the animals or us. What will we do then?

       1 likes

  4. emmanuel says:

    We get the politicians we deserve and we get the meat we deserve
    Vote with your dollars
    Buy organic grow your own vegetables and get to know those producing your food
    Your physical, mental and social health depends on it

       4 likes

  5. B. Talbert says:

    I think the FDA has been allowing many things to be done to our food and many crops to be planted without any kind of approval and they are afraid that if laws aren’t quickily passed to protect the corporations that the public will find out about it and make them put a stop to it. More and more is coming out. What we need is a whistleblower who will make– all– their devious machinations public.

       0 likes

  6. Emily Dale says:

    This is one more reason I choose to avoid any conventionally-grown/raised foods. I want to be certain that if I have an infection, antibiotics given me will take effect, which they won’t if my body is already overloaded with antibiotics from the food I eat.

    I have passed by a number of feedlots while traveling coast-to-coast on Amtrak, and the fact that the cattle packed together in the feedlots were standing knee-deep in their own excrement turned my stomach and caused me to never want conventionally-raised beef again. Another observation was that a large proportion of the cattle were Holstein dairy cattle that were of old age, unable to create any more milk, and possibly disease-ridden. Why would I want to eat their meat? And why would you want to?

       12 likes

  7. mark ward says:

    all part of the dumning-down of american citizens. how do we allow and promote known carcinogens into water supplies like flouride and chlorine? and the fda going after natural food suppliers like the amish. or harrassing the vitamin/supplement industry.

       14 likes

  8. Michelle Healy says:

    Stop abusing animals and subjecting humans to unnatural substances through the foods that we eat. It will end someday, find another way to make you money now.

    Sincerely,

    Michelle Healy

       6 likes

  9. Linda Zigich says:

    If we do not protect our food supply we, more specifically the FDA, will be responsible for creating a type of genocide that will be globally felt. It will also be irreversible. Everything that has a heartbeat will be affected. Terrorists will gloat at our willingness to kill our own people in numbers that exceed any terrorists dream. Stupidity? Arrogance? I’m not sure but maybe “treason” seems more accurate.
    Corporations run the FDA. It is a broken system when it comes to protecting the American people and perhaps their time has come. We need to expose members of the FDA and their connections to big business and prosecute as needed. The FDA has become the new terrorist.

       9 likes

  10. blue heron says:

    The joke here is the FDA is being run by members of or cronies associated with Big Pharma, who’s entire purpose is to push high profit margin drugs on animals and people.

    Money rules, not the people. What power does any US judge wield when facing billions of dollars in profits, eh?

    That’s apparently the way “they” want it, until it will be too late to turn back a drug resistant catastrophe…which is already bigger killer than the AIDS epidemic here in the US.

       8 likes

  11. Brandon Johnson says:

    So there may be antibiotics in liquor as well?

       5 likes

  12. Arika Grace-Kelly says:

    You can give those critters all the antibiotics you want, because I only eat organic animals that eat grass! You freaking bastards!!!

       4 likes

  13. Gladys Rhoads says:

    stop the dosing of our food, many of us are allergic to some antibiotics and the using it on the meat we eat can cause use a very severe medical problem or even death.

       4 likes

  14. Sandra Lane says:

    The US is enslved by the thought that science is the answer to everything. Nature accepts abuse quietly, but the day is coming when she will fight back. And it will not be pretty. Those of us who love nature are already seeing it.

       6 likes

    • DrS says:

      The science is pretty clear that this is a bad idea: science isn’t the problem. It’s pursuit of profits without and concern about consequences (unless they impact the short-term bottom line). Publicly-held corporations are legally required to put profits above all other concerns or the stockholders can sue. As long as corporations are put on equal footing with people they will run rampant over us.

         1 likes

  15. Buy organic. Have a farmer raise your meat and share it with your family. Obama said he was trying to get the antibiotics out of the feedlot Wjhat happened??
    We are haveing deaths fron antibiotic resistant bugs and it is getting worse. It is very upsetting for the medical proffession, and those families that lose loved ones we are not making enough noise. Time to start boycotting and letting producers know why..

       7 likes

    • Gracie says:

      The only thing that will stop MRSA is colloidal silver. But most doctors don’t use it, probably because it’s not on the “approved for treatment” list. Many have died or had limbs cut off because of AMA rules. The public must speak out loud and clear to allow doctors to use WHAT WORKS!

         0 likes

  16. Brenda Coticelli says:

    It seems that the FDA is getting weaker and weaker or maybe the lobbyists are stronger and stronger. The FDA does not seem to care about our health and well being. I think that many of our health problems are being caused by our food because of the GMOs, antibiotics and hormones ingested by the public, many who are not aware of this.

       5 likes

  17. Surely in this year of 2012, we ought to be more concerned about additives and stop their use
    as much as possible. Too many illnesses are on the rise alarmingly. THERE IS SOMEI=THING
    making the difference between my parents’ tme and mine—illness wise. My father died at age
    100, and my mother at 87. They lived before the age of “science” in animal production…science
    that tells us they are improving our food by additions!

       6 likes

  18. Anna Feldman says:

    Antibiotics can be life saving when they are appropriately used. We need to voice our concern regarding the indiscriminate use of them by the ethanol producers, the farming and cattle industry..

       4 likes

  19. John Zeigler says:

    Cattle are not engineered to eat corn or other grains, except incidentally. They are ruminating animals, designed to forage on grasses. The addition of antibiotics and/or hormones renders their meat toxic for food consumption. Buy free range and grass fed, only.

       4 likes

  20. This is a major factor in the continued increase in infections that are becoming impossible to stop. I see women (and men) weekly that have recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) that are never permanently eliminated. The only solution; as of this date, for the antibiotics in your food, is to go organic and rebuild your immune system.

       5 likes

  21. GMC41 says:

    The government DOES NOT CARE. They get paid to do nothing or to do what others want. They have no mind of their own anymore. GREED trumps animals and even human beings welfare.

       3 likes

  22. Thomas Uhing says:

    If the FDA doesn’t clean up their act, I and my family have stopped buying all kinds of commercial meat products, except those from free range and small farmers that don’t use antibiotics in feed or oil–based fertilizers and insecticides in grass and grain fields. We just hope more of the People take back their government and boycott all abuses of government services!

       5 likes

  23. Lenora Moore says:

    The appalling abuse of antibiotics given to our food supply in the feedlot environment if allowed to continue and/or accelerate will one day cost us far more health and dollar wise than it will garner in upfront profits.

    Abuse and profit now — but, “the fiddler will be paid” in the long term and the price will not be pretty.

       4 likes

  24. carolyn says:

    Your right , the FDA don’t care. They also don’t care that chicken and turkey breeders feed the birds arsenic. They also approve of medicines that contain snake venom. And medicine being made in Japan where all the nuclear fall out occured. And hard telling how much more we don’t know about!!
    It all comes down to that big buck they make!!

       3 likes

  25. Lenora Moore says:

    I am appalled by government and legislators who are allowing our food supplies and the planet to be contaminated by the stealth and under-handedness of those with the dollars to push through their short sighted money making schemes to the detriment of the health of the earth and it’s inhabitants. The dollars they profit today will be nothing compared to the remedial dollars required downline to mend the error of their greed.

       3 likes

  26. Dawn Pearce says:

    Seriously? The human body is already having issues with antibiotics not working because the “bugs” are not affected by them. Our food animals need no extra chemicals in them. Thank You for taking time to listen.

       4 likes

  27. Baerta Graff says:

    It’s important for us all to take action about the natural ways that our food is being raised, processed and brought to us. The U.S. is suppose to be the world’s richest, super power. Why are we the sickest?

       6 likes

  28. GERALDINE HALL says:

    Giveing a double dose of antibiotic is putting our children and people under grave danger in becoing antibiotic resistant. This is not good. We will not have any antibiotics to cure disease in our future, is this what you want? You must reduce these antiobiotic to less than half of what is being used now. Not only are we becoming antibiotic resistant, but our children are becoming physically mature from the hormones that are also given to the animals we eat. Wake up, don’t destroy our world with too much hormones, too much antibiotics and too much of everything that is bad for our nation.

       4 likes

  29. Mary Rausch says:

    This is just stupid. Everyione knows that the resistance to antibotics is a real problem. How can this be justified? Too time consuming my As….

       3 likes

  30. susan rutkiewicz says:

    I did not realize that I was supposed to be comenting on the FDA doesn’t seem to care article

       0 likes

  31. Abbey McClain says:

    As more details of factory farming are shared with the general public, more individuals such as myself will opt for a vegetarian or lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle for the sake of their health. All this b/c the FDA doesn’t want to “complicate” the process of factory farming, which is criminal activity if all of us were privy to the goings on of factory farming. It’s terrible for our health and is a directly related to our energy crisis. It’s an environmental hazard, and not just in the US. It’s an extremely inefficient process and if it weren’t for government subsidies, a McDonald’s hamburger would most likely cost about $45 or more. Let’s AT LEAST remove antibiotics, if not for ourselves, for the generations to come.

       4 likes

  32. Deb Cee says:

    Follow the money trail. Big Farmers feed/fatten/destroy the health of citizens who then have to consult with Big Medicine, for cures, who in turn is in bed with Big Pharma to complete the circle. What’s left ? Should we add in th Big Funeral Home Industry ?

       4 likes

  33. Carole says:

    Why doesn’t someone make a petition regarding this issue?

       3 likes

  34. Jane Goebel says:

    This has been going on for many years and it’s commonly known that this is very dangerous. Why Can’t we get it right and eliminate it once and for all? Let’s eat healthy.

       3 likes

    • Lorraine Ciuba says:

      Buy ORGANIC as much as you can, and try to eliminate PROCESSED food as much as possible. PROCESSED FOODS contain harmful chemicals that weakens our immune system.

         1 likes

  35. uriel dana says:

    I am convinced that the dumbing down of America and the high rate of cancer are directly connected to what is going on with the SAD (standard American diet). The ultimate damage this is causing to our people and country in unconscionable. Our guts/digestive systems are so overloaded with antibiotics from animal products& water suppliesthat our bodies are becoming resistant to many standard treatments. One out of 3 people have parasites because of this.90% of the fish in the Washington DC area are developing female genitalia and women absorb 5 lbs of chemicals a year from their makeup.
    The FDA is allowing chemicals that are toxic in food to be allowed in cosmetics and bath products.
    When I was growing up I was taught the FDA were the good guys, protecting our health in food and drugs. Now they seem to be are part of the plutocracy we now live in, doing what ever it takes for the drug, petrochemical, and gmo industries (like Monsanto( to profit. This should be the most strict agency and testing must show how each chemical reacts with other common chemicals instead allowing things through that are on their own questionable.

       3 likes

  36. KAREN ASH says:

    We all need to know what is in our food both animal and vegetable and grains. We all need to prevent as much as we can, additives in our food, additives that are making all of us sick and are creating antibiotic resistant bacteria……….stop adding to our food items and stop dosing live animals with antitbiotics.

       4 likes

  37. Julia Gordon says:

    Healthy feed animals shoud not be given antibiotics, period. it is a very dangerous practice and a poor excuse for some of the industry’s terrible sanitation practices Stop this practice before it creates even more resistant super bugs.

       2 likes

  38. Debra Pinkham says:

    We don’t need to render the immune systems of people to the point they won’t survive a simple cold!

       2 likes

  39. lovenda garrison says:

    Antibiotic intensive use in animals, enabling resistant bacteria to enter the food chain, are among the factors behind the global spread. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, some 25,000 people a year die of antibiotic-resistant infections in the European Union.

    It really doesn’t make sense to create supper bugs because of over use of antibiotics I’m no scientist!!

       3 likes

  40. Ellen Middleditch says:

    Hey–MRSA and VERSA are running rampant. We need to protect the effectiveness of the antibiotics we have and not have them diluted by dosing our animals. Please–make it stop!

       3 likes

  41. buck says:

    The FDA only cares about their ” pocket money ” aside from what they steal from the taxpayers .

       3 likes

  42. Russell Skinner says:

    no more antibiotics period!

       3 likes

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