September 16, 2011
A report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded there is not sufficient data to study a link between antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans.
The report comes amid attempts in Congress to restrict use of antibiotics in food animals.
GAO concluded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have collected some data on antibiotic use in food animals and on resistant bacteria in animals and retail meat, but said "these data lack crucial details necessary to examine trends and understand the relationship between use and resistance."
The GAO report notes HHS and USDA have worked to research alternatives to current antibiotic use practices and to educate producers and veterinarians on appropriate use of antibiotics. However, the extent of such efforts are unclear because the agencies have not assessed their effectiveness, limiting their ability to identify gaps where more research may be needed.
The full report, released on Sept. 14, is available at www.gao.gov/docsearch/repandtest.html
Reprinted in part from Drovers.com