Recently the CDC raised the alarm about antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs) and the implications they have on public health in the United States. A report from Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control, warned that “our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections.”

Citing the connection between the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production and the proliferation of these tough-to-treat infections, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) – the only microbiologist in Congress – has introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA).  PAMTA is designed to stop the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals–a practice that is accelerating the problem of antibiotic resistance.

The Congresswoman told Food Safety News “We know for a fact that the [meat] industry won’t voluntarily give these up – we know from years of trying that that’s not going to work.”

Consumers Union is one of 450 organizations that have endorsed PAMTA.

Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “To stop the spread of superbugs, we need Congress to pass this bill to curb the overuse of antibiotics in food-producing animals.  The declining effectiveness of antibiotics has become a national health crisis.  One of the reasons we’re seeing a jump in superbugs is the overuse of antibiotics on healthy food animals.”

Gadhia added, “In a national survey we took last year, 86 percent of consumers said meat raised without antibiotics should be available in their local supermarket.  Our organization urges Congress to pass this bill without delay, and we commend Rep. Slaughter for her leadership on this issue.”

- Joe Diliberti