Obama: Federal agencies will only source meat raised under ‘responsible antibiotic use practices’
The White House announced June 2, that President Obama had signed a presidential memorandum that directs federal departments and agencies to adopt a three-tiered phased approach to offer options for meat from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies with federal agencies’ facilities. The memorandum says that within 120 days, the General Services Administration, which operates a significant number of federal cafeterias, will issue a memorandum on the purchasing of meats and poultry from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies, but that other departments and agencies may join.
All federal facilities serving federal civilian employees will have poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies available by 2018 and meat by 2020, not those solely operated by GSA.
The memorandum also directs federal agencies to develop a strategy for applying a preference by 2020 for meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies sold or served in all federal facilities.
According to the memo,
“Responsible antibiotic-use policies,” such as FDA GFI 209 and 213, are those policies under which meat and poultry producers use medically important antibiotics only under veterinary oversight and only when needed to prevent, control, and treat disease — but not for growth promotion.”
White House praises food, ag, drug companies
The White House praised Foster Farms, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Tyson Foods, Smithfield, Walmart, Elanco Animal Health, Merck Animal Health and Zoetis for their commitments to limit the use of antibiotics in animal health in order to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in both animals and humans.
The Obama administration highlighted the commitments of these companies Tuesday when it assembled more than 150 food company, retail and human and animal health stakeholders at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship.
“Private-sector participation is essential to our nation’s success in preventing, detecting and responding to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and in preserving the efficacy of our existing antibiotics while enhancing the innovation and development of new antibiotics, therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines,” a White House fact sheet on antibiotics said.
Livestock and poultry farmers, food producers and retailers have begun to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics in growth promotion and to eliminate antibiotics important for human health, the fact sheet added.
The White House cited the following individual company accomplishments:
▪ Foster Farms is emphasizing preventive flock health programs and will use antibiotics only for chickens that have a documented microbial disease or for disease control as dictated by a veterinarian.
▪ McDonald’s will develop field projects to serve as demonstration farms for each species in an effort to demonstrate the benefits of judicious antimicrobial use.
▪ Panera Bread has extended its “raised without antibiotics protein” to include roasted turkey, smoked chicken, breakfast sausage, ham and bacon.
▪ Tyson Foods will eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by September 2017 and reduce antibiotics on cattle, hog and turkey farms.
▪ Smithfield prohibits the use of medically important antimicrobials for growth promotion and feed efficiency.
▪ Walmart is asking suppliers to follow its judicious-use principles.
▪ Elanco Animal Health will dedicate two-thirds of its food animal research budget to attack disease challenges currently addressed by “shared class antibiotics,” which means they are also used in human disease.
▪ Merck Animal Health developed a commercial surveillance program to monitor multi-drug resistant bacteria across live animal, beef and dairy production.
▪ Zoetis, a global producer of animal medicines and vaccines, agreed that its medically important antibiotics would come under the direct purview of a veterinarian, which means their use for growth promotion has been eliminated.
The forum program consisted of opening comments by officials, a panel discussion with the animal and human health care stockholders and then breakout sessions for animal and human health care. The first session and panel discussion were open to reporters.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell started off the forum by pointing out that more than 2 million Americans are becoming sick each year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria and that more than 23,000 people die from bacteria that cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Notng that the World Health Organization requires each country to establish a national action plan for responsible antibiotic use, Burwell said, “We are building the momentum we need to fight this fight.”
Fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria is “one of the more complex challenges we face in the public health space,” said John Holdren, the White House science adviser.
There are many “drivers” in the problem, many of the them poorly understood, Holdren said, but “We cannot let this grave public health threat go unaddressed.”
The White House hosted the forum “in recognition of the complexity,” Holdren added.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is a full partner in the government-wide effort and that USDA wants to increase research and to use Big Data and mapping to find out “how bacteria travels in the animal health system.”
During the panel discussion, Elanco Animal Health President Jeff Simmons said “Overuse is real and has to be addressed.” But he added it is important not to enact regulations or policies “that will move faster than science.”
Walmart Vice President of Food Safety Frank Yiannis said that transparency is important ,and that his company has asked its suppliers to make information on the use of antibiotics available to the general public.
Yiannis also said he would support government policies that he would appreciate government “guidance” on reporting antibiotic use so that the public could compare one company against another.
Tysons Foods CEO Donnie Smith said he “loved” the increase Obama proposed for research and that the company is dependent on Elanco and other drug companies developing alternatives to current antibiotics.
Lisa Monaco, the homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to the president, closed the session by noting that combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria is vital to national security since otherwise the United States may go back to the day when common infections from something as simple as a cut in the hand could lead to death.
Meat packers criticize
White House fact sheet on antibiotics
The White House decision not to buy meat “treated with hormones or antibiotics” and to take other steps to cut down on antibiotic use in the meat industry has struck a nerve with the North American Meat Institute, which represents the nation’s packing plants.
After the White House Office of the Press Secretary early Tuesday issued a fact sheet that said the Presidential News Service is “committing to serving meats and poultry that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics” and that President Barack Obama has signed a presidential memorandum directing federal departments and agencies to create a “preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic use,” NAMI issued a news release that “certain statements in the White House press release that could confuse consumers.”
“No meat or poultry product is ‘treated’ with antibiotics,” NAMI said at the beginning of the release.
“Livestock and poultry may sometimes be administered antibiotics, but strict federal withdrawal periods and careful federal residue monitoring ensure that meat and poultry derived from animals that received antibiotics are safe for consumers.”
NAMI is one of the groups that the White House listed as a “committed organization” in its fact sheet.
But NAMI spokeswoman Janet Riley said in an email to The Hagstrom Report, “We committed conceptually, support judicious use and to the important dialogue that we anticipated would characterize this meeting. We didn’t make any sort of commitment to their press release, which we find misleading and confusing.”
–The Hagstrom Report