NEW YORK – State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh are urging immediate passage of their bill to ban the use of antibiotics in animals sold for food in New York, as well as stronger federal regulations, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will restrict the use of a type of antibiotic used in livestock that may contribute to high drug resistance in humans.
The routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animals meant for human consumption poses an unacceptable risk to public health, creating treatment-resistant bacterial infections. For years, the FDA dragged its feet on the issue. That is why Senator Squadron and Assemblymember Kavanagh introduced legislation (S80 [Squadron] / A05582 [Kavanagh]) that would make New York a leader on food safety and prohibit the use of antibiotics in all farm animals sold for food in New York, except for the treatment of sick animals.
This week, the FDA took a step in the right direction, announcing that it will restrict farmers and ranchers from using the cephalosporins class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens, and turkeys; cephalosporins are also used to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and a variety of infections in humans. The FDA’s action illustrates that antibiotics are indeed a concern in our food products and do impact human drug-resistance. However, cephalosporins are only a small portion of the routine antibiotics used in food production, and more remains to be done to protect consumers.
“We are what we eat, and the huge amount of antibiotics in food today poses a major health risk for us all. We wouldn’t put antibiotics in our tap water – but, today, our meat and our poultry are filled with it,” said Senator Squadron. “The FDA’s decision to restrict one class of antibiotics is an important step, but rising drug resistance and outbreaks of food-borne illnesses mean there is still a big gap to fill. New York must take the lead in improving standards and protecting citizens by banning non-therapeutic antibiotics in our food.”
“If you eat in America today, chances are you are being medicated by agribusinesses, with drugs you otherwise couldn’t take without a prescription. They’re medicating you without regard for your health or the health of animals produced for food, simply to increase the yield and the profits of their businesses,” said Assemblymember Kavanagh. “We welcome the FDA’s action, but a limited restriction on one type of antibiotic is just the beginning. We would also welcome broader federal action, but we’re not willing to wait for it; we intend to do everything we can to put a stop to this practice and protect the health and safety of 19 million New Yorkers.”
“The FDA’s ban of cephalosporin is a good first step. But we need a far wider ban on antibiotic use in food producing animals, such as that which has been introduced in New York State by Assemblymember Kavanagh and Senator Squadron, if we are to truly protect public health for our and future generations,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety.
“The FDA decision banning certain antibiotics in animals intended for human consumption is an important step forward,” said Nancy Romer of the Brooklyn Food Coalition. “It paves the way for even more effective legislation that New York Senator Squadron and Assemblymember Kavanagh have proposed that would ban the use of all non-therapeutic antibiotics in animals. The health of our people and our ability to fight off serious bacterial infections are at stake. Our people's health is far more important than the profits of corporate animal factory farmers. Sustainable, healthier meat farmers will rejoice at this.”
Senator Squadron represents the 25th Senate District, including Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Assemblymember Kavanagh represents the 74th Assembly District on the East Side of Manhattan.