Perhaps you’re a dim sum disciple of the venerable Yank Sing located in downtown San Francisco, but there’s plenty of other places in the Bay Area to snack on this delightful Chinese fare.
Chick-fil-A’s plan to ditch antibiotics in its birds is part of a growing industry trend. Driving the growth is concern about the risks associated with routine use of antibiotics in farm animals.
Documents show that Food and Drug Administration scientists allowed 18 drugs to be sold to farmers despite a risk to human health. Critics say the agency now needs to get companies to commit to phasing out the drugs given to animals at low doses to make them grow faster.
The Food and Drug Administration Wednesday advised companies to change the labels on their drugs to make it illegal for livestock producers to use drugs for “growth promotion” or “feed efficiency.” The announcement is the latest step in a long-running effort by the FDA to reduce the use of antibiotics in agriculture.
There’s a curious twist in the contentious debate over feeding antibiotics to animals in order to make them grow faster. Evidence suggests using antibiotics for growth promotion, at least among pigs, doesn’t even make economic sense. But some pork producers don’t believe it.
A commission evaluating the impacts of animal agriculture says the industry has resisted change. And it says government agencies have failed to regulate the industry’s environmental and health practices because of “overwhelming” political influence.
The agency said that the most problematic resistant bacteria are emerging in hospitals. But it also called bacteria that have become resistant to drugs used on the farm a “serious threat.”
No one knows exactly how farmers use antibiotics. Many public health experts say the government should collect and publish detailed information because antibiotic-resistant bacteria are an increasingly urgent problem. But many farm groups are opposed.
Chipotle isn’t changing its ban on meat raised with antibiotics after all, despite headlines to the contrary, a spokesman for the Mexican-fast-food chain tells NPR. According to an official statement from Chipotle, the chain’s antibiotic ban still stands. For now.
Farmers give antibiotics routinely to pigs, beef cattle and poultry. They say the drugs help keep animals healthy and get them to market faster. Others say this practice practically guarantees that bacteria will develop resistance to these antibiotics more quickly, endangering human lives and the long-term viability of the drugs.
Both fruits are vulnerable to a nasty disease called fire blight that can devastate orchards. So organic labeling standards allow for antibiotics to be used on apple and pear trees. That exemption is set to end in 2014 — but growers say they need a little more time.