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Environmental and consumer groups have condemned the US Food and Drug Administration’s move to renege on its long-held policy to regulate the use of human antibiotics in animal feed.
Last week, the agency quietly announced it was withdrawing its plan to limit the use of antibiotics fed to healthy livestock intended for human consumption.
Critics say the U-turn, which comes amid the FDA’s own stated concerns over food safety, is at odds with its obligations to protect the public.
The groups also criticized the timing of the announcement, which was made during the holiday season and disclosed only in the federal register.
The use of low doses of antibiotics in agricultural animal feed contributes to drug-resistant superbugs, according to food and health experts.
One leading food policy writer described the policy reversal as “pathetic” and “dismaying.”
“It’s dismaying, and obviously something they felt sheepish about, otherwise it wouldn’t have been released this week,” Michael Pollan, author of the Onmivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, told the Guardian.