U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House rules committee, has sent a letter to more than 60 of the nation's largest food companies, including fast-food chains, inquiring about their policies related to antibiotic use in food-producing animals.

The letter was sent to food retailers such as Walmart, Kroger and Costco as well as food production/process companies including Tyson Foodss, Hormel Foodsl and Kraft/Oscar Mayerl. Resturants and fast-food outlets such as McDonald's, Applebee's, Panera and KFC. Specifically, Slaughter wants the companies to disclose their company policies on antibiotic use in food-animal-- meat, poultry and dairy-- production.

Slaughter also wants the companies to provide a breakdown of the percentages of beef, pork and poultry which they serve raised "without any antibiotics," raised with antibiotics only for "therapeutic reasons" or raised with "routine use of antibiotics." She is outlined a June 15 deadline for the companies to respond.

"Very simply, consumers have a right to know what's in their food," said Slaughter. "It's like that old commercial, 'where's the beef?' We just want to know, 'what's in the beef?'

For the passed several years, Slaughter has presented various bills designed to eliminate the use of antibiotics in food-animal production. She is the lead sponsor of legislation titled The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R.965 or PAMTA). The legislation would prevent agricultural use of seven classes of antibiotics important for human health, Slaughter contends.

The National Pork Producers Council opposes the act, saying it "would drastically limit the use of medically important antibiotics in animal agriculture. Under the bill, such antibiotics could not be used to prevent or control diseases in livestock."

Read the letter here.