April 25, 1980

No resolution on question of antibiotics in feed

JAMA. 1980;243(16):1618. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300420010004

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After a year of study, an 11-member National Research Council (NRC) committee has told the Food and Drug Administration that data about the possible human health effects of placing antibiotics in animal feed are inconclusive and that "insurmountable technical difficulties" stand in the way of comprehensive epidemiologic study of this question.

Because of concern over development of resistant bacterial strains, the FDA has been trying since 1977 to restrict use (for growth promotion and disease prevention) of antibiotics in animal feed. However, the US House of Representatives tabled this effort until the National Academy of Sciences, of which the NRC is a part, could study the question (JAMA MEDICAL NEWS 242:1464, 1979).

The committee now says that existing epidemiologic studies neither prove nor disprove the human hazard hypothesis and that the major problem of any such study is that therapeutic (for specific illnesses) and subtherapeutic (in feed) uses of antibiotics in