Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently filed a petition with USDA calling on the Agency to offer chicken produced without the routine use of antibiotics important to human medicine (“certified responsible antibiotic use chicken”) in the National School Lunch Program.
- As previously covered on this blog, for years, FDA, USDA, and various stakeholders have grappled with how to address concerns about the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth or feed efficiency in food-producing animals. For example, in 2013, FDA asked animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved conditions of use on antibiotic labels to remove production indications. In March 2015, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced a bill that would require FDA to withdraw its approval of medically important antibiotics that are at a high risk of abuse in food-producing animals. And in October 2015, California passed legislation to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock. Most recently, on September 21, 2016, the United Nations held a ministerial meeting on antimicrobial resistance (see previous blog coverage here).
- On October 20, 2016, the NRDC filed a petition with USDA calling on the Agency to offer chicken produced without the routine use of antibiotics important to human medicine (“certified responsible antibiotic use chicken”) to schools in the National School Lunch Program through the USDA Foods program. In particular, the petition asks the USDA to create commodity specifications for certified responsible antibiotic use chicken products, and add those products to the USDA Foods List, so that schools and State Distributing Agencies may order them.
- NRDC’s petition is not unprecedented given the increased spotlight on antibiotic resistance fears, and consumers increasing penchant for “antibiotic free” foods. Regardless of how USDA responds to this petition, it is clear that antibiotic resistance remains a trending public health concern.