If the system is so poor that it must be propped up with off-label and subtherapeautic antibiotics, perhaps its time to revise the system? In an apparent win for pharmaceutical companies, the Food and Drug Administration has recently rescinded a proposed ban on off-label use of cephalosporin drugs in animals raised for food. According to the Wall Street Journal, this last-minute reversal came just five days before the proposed ban would take effect. Has the FDA lost its way? The official mission of the agency states, "The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs," (among other responsibilities like regulating radioactive materials). Despite significant evidence that off-label and widespread agricultural use play a major role in creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the FDA has caved under pressure from the very companies selling the drugs. This decision not to ban off-label usage begs the question: What is the point of having a label in the first place?
Release No. 0137.09
Contact: Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
April 28, 2009
“I want to reiterate that U.S. pork is safe. While we in the U.S. are continuing to monitor for new cases of H1N1 flu, the American food supply is safe.
There is no evidence or reports that U.S. swine have been infected with this virus. USDA is reminding its trading partners that U.S. pork and pork products are safe and there is no basis for restricting imports of commercially produced U.S. pork and pork products.
This is not an animal health or food safety issue. This discovery of the H1N1 flu virus is in humans. Any trade restrictions would be inconsistent with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.
According to OIE, because the current H1N1 flu related human health event has been described as swine influenza, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) announced that there has been no infection in animals confirmed in the zones where cases of human infection have been detected. Therefore, it is not necessary to introduce specific measures for international trade in swine or their products, nor are consumers of pork products at risk of infection.
United States Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk urged all trading partners to base any food safety measures taken to protect their populations on scientific evidence and in accordance with their international obligations. In a statement, Kirk said that ”restrictions on U.S. pork or pork products or any meat products from the United States resulting from the recent outbreak do not appear to be based on scientific evidence and may result in serious trade disruptions without cause.’
To our trading partners, I would say again that our pork and pork products are safe.”