Contact the FDA on antibiotics in food

1. Victory in jeopardy: FDA may ignore recommendation
Last month’s FEED reported how the Union of Concerned Scientists presented evidence to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee warning that approving fourth-generation cephalosporin antibiotics for use in animals would lead to increased antibiotic resistance in human patients. In Europe, where fourth-generation cephalosporins are used in animal agriculture, resistance to these antibiotics in human medicine is increasing, while in the United States, where the drugs are not yet approved for use in animals, resistance is still rare. The FDA advisory committee agreed that approval of the veterinary use of the antibiotics could threaten human health. But under pressure from industry, the FDA may take the unusual step of ignoring the advice of its advisory committee and approving the drug anyway. UCS joined with coalition partners to send a letter urging the FDA to follow the recommendations of its advisory committee. Read our letter (pdf).

2. Fast Food Nation hits the silver screen
Eric Schlosser’s insightful exposé on the fast-food industry is coming to theaters nationwide November 17. Read more.

Bottle and glass of red wine3. Red, red wine: Engineered yeast removes one headache, causes another
A Milwaukee company is marketing a new genetically engineered yeast to red wine vintners. The yeast was engineered to eliminate headache-causing chemicals produced by bacteria commonly used in making red wines. According to a Sacramento Bee article, wine produced using the new yeast is being sold in the United States this year. But using engineered organisms without labeling the bottles creates a different kind of headache for consumers who want to avoid bioengineered products. Moreover, following its typical approach, the FDA is allowing the yeast to be marketed based on the company’s safety review—not an independent FDA assessment. Read the article (free reg. req’d).

4. Which fruits and vegetables to buy organic
Carry a wallet-sized Shoppers’ Guide with you to see which fruits and vegetables are routinely doused with the most pesticides and which are generally pesticide-free. Read more.

5. Hogs on small farms don’t carry as much Salmonella
A new study supports what sustainable agriculture advocates have been saying for years: small-scale livestock operations are healthier. Iowa State University researchers found that levels of Salmonella (bacteria that can cause foodborne illness) were low or non-existent on farms with 20-150 hogs. The researchers concluded that use of meal feed and straw bedding, low animal densities, rodent control, and avoidance of antibiotics helped limit Salmonella. Unfortunately these farms are the exception. Typical hog operations forgo most of these good practices, keep animals crowded together, and compensate for unsanitary conditions by routinely using antibiotics. Read more.

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