The following is a statement from the Coalition on Animal Health in response to the Oct. 30, press conference by a coalition initiating "Keep Antibiotics Working: The Campaign to End Antibiotic Overuse" (See the Oct. 31 Industry Insight posted on this Web site for additional details.)

CAH Statement:

It is scientifically irresponsible for a group to use a time of national crisis to pursue an agenda that would undermine the safety of our food supply. The use of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved antibiotics in food-producing animals has been verified in scientific studies through the past 40 years as providing a critical, firstline of defense to keep our nation's food supply safe and secure. Antibiotics also provide a firstline of defense should disease ever be intentionally introduced and spread through U.S. flocks and herds.

It is misleading and inaccurate to suggest that the use of animal antibiotics would decrease the effectiveness of human antibiotics, like Cipro, in the treatment of anthrax. These irresponsible suggestions indicate this group's complete misunderstanding of antibiotic resistance and discredits their ability to find real solutions.

This group offers overly simplistic and dangerous theories to the multi-faceted issue of antibiotic resistance. Their recommendations not only put the safety and welfare of U.S. farm animals at risk, these recommendations also pose a threat of increasing disease outbreaks on the farm, thereby, increasing the need for antibiotics. Countries that have restricted the use of preventative antibiotics, such as Denmark, have seen a dramatic rise in diseased farm animals, which has resulted in a 30 percent increase in the use of antibiotics in order to treat these diseases.

CAH favors prudent, commonsense use of antibiotics and this is exactly why we have adopted "Prudent Use of Antibiotics in Animals Guidelines” and are calling on the government to increase its surveillance measures.

The animal agriculture industry has adopted prudent use guidelines, developed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, in cooperation with FDA, Centers for Disease Control, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and others, to ensure products are used judiciously. The American Veterinary Medical Association has cooperated with the FDA to develop educational materials for veterinarians, veterinary students and animal producers.

The United States needs a more rigorous and robust surveillance program, and CAH has asked FDA to do more to support USDA's efforts to enhance the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System. We need a robust surveillance program so that we can identify the true level of potential exposure to resistant foodborne pathogens and therefore more accurately assess the potential human impact.
These efforts are the types of solutions needed to confront antibiotic resistance and ensure the safety of our food supply. Individuals or groups that purport to represent consumers' best interest should seek real solutions, not sound bites that indulge fear and jeopardize the safety of our food supply. In times like these, we must strive for food protection and treat our nation's food supply like the precious resource it is.

CAH membership includes: Animal Feed Industry Association, Animal Health Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council.

Newswire and Coalition for Animal Health news release.

See also: Coalition for Animal Health Fact Sheet