Five Democratic Senators united their voices to urge the Department of Health and Human Services to quickly finalize its rule for more data collection on the sale and distribution of medically important antibiotics in agriculture. This information would include species-specific data.

Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., sent the letter addressed to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Matthews Burwell earlier this week.

In the letter, the senators supported the proposed requirements and re-iterated the “growing treat” of antibiotic resistance in foodborne pathogens.

“We understand that some feed and pharmaceutical industry groups have expressed a view that the agency lacks the authority to collect species-specific estimates on antibiotic sales from drug sponsors. This is wrong; the agency has clear authority to propose this rule,” the letter stated.

In particular, the senators pointed to a CDC report in August that found 24 individuals in Washington were hospitalized with multidrug-resistant antibiotic infections linked to pork. The full letter is available here.

This outbreak was linked to a recall involving 523,380 pounds of pork from Kapowsin Meats. The outbreak of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:I went on to infect 152 people. 

However, a further look at the CDC report showed that antibiotic resistance associated with the outbreak wasn't definitely linked to the pork and could have also been associated with “increased risk of hospitalization, development of a bloodstream infection, or treatment failure in patients.” Click here for the CDC report.

This isn’t the first time some of these senators have pushed for a federal agency to step up its animal antibiotics tracking. Last year, Sens. Feinstein, Gillibrand and Warren joined with former Demotric Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa to urge FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to improve data collect on animal antibiotic use and resistance. Read more.