In a recent address to the UN General Assembly, the WHO Chief urged consumers to choose “antibiotic free” meats.

  • As previously covered on this blog here and here, for years, FDA, USDA, and various industry stakeholders have sought to tackle public health concerns associated with the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth or feed efficiency in food-producing animals.  In the U.S., FDA is working with industry to gradually phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for production purposes.
  • In a recent address to the UN General Assembly late last month, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization called on consumers to choose “antibiotic free” meat, noting that doing so would help stem the “slow motion tsunami” of antimicrobial resistance.
  • To be sure, meat industry stakeholders certainly recognize the potential human health risks posed by the abuse of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in food-producing animals and, to that end, have been working with industry to promote the judicious use of antibiotics in food-producing animals in the U.S.  That being said, meat industry groups are certain to challenge the WHO Chief’s blanket recommendation on grounds that the judicious use of antibiotics in food producing animals is safe.  It remains to be seen whether and how the WHO Chief’s aggressive position will affect the statements and recommendations of medical and public health groups going forward.