There is “alarmingly little information" on certain drugs used on animals, said a food-safety advocate who questioned the impact of such drugs on the health of animals and humans.
The nonprofit Center for Food Safety on Wednesday released a report that examined current safety information on commonly used animal drugs, coinciding with a public meeting that was scheduled to be held by federal agencies to discuss their plans for collecting data on antimicrobial drug use in agriculture.
“FDA is required by law to ensure animal drugs are safe for both humans and animals. Yet, our investigation revealed that numerous drugs on the market today may pose significant threats to human, animal, and environmental health," said Cristina Stella, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety and one of the report authors, in a statement accompanying a press release. “In the case of other drugs, there is alarmingly little information. FDA’s current drug safety review system is simply untenable and could potentially cause significant harm."
Approximately two years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to phase out antimicrobial drugs for use in food animals for production purposes such as enhancing their growth.
The growing number of antibiotic-resistant drugs has prolonged ailments and made it more challenging for the medical profession to treat human illnesses. At the time of the announcement, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, Michael Taylor, said the purpose of FDA's action was to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for use in humans.
In its new report, “America’s Secret Animal Drug Problem: How lack of transparency is endangering human health and animal welfare," the Center for Food Safety concluded that drugs such as ractopamine, steroid hormones and antioxidants necessitate a reexamination by FDA. The food-safety group also mentioned the need to reexamine other drugs including arsenicals, cocciodiostats, and antibiotics.
Some drugs on the market today also may pose substantial threats to animals or humans, such as creating drug-resistant pathogens and exposure to hormone residues, according to the report.
Said Cameron Harsh, research manager at the Center for Food Safety and report author: “Until FDA thoroughly assesses the safety of animal drugs, and withdraws those found to be unsafe, the well-being of farm animals, consumers, and the environment are put at risk by an industry that thrives on keeping the government and the public in the dark."