Lawmakers press FDA on this unregulated practice
As the battle wages on over the safety of feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, a new report reveals yet another source of unregulated antibiotics in American animal feed–spent ethanol grain.
The new report by advocacy group the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy suggests that a relatively new source of food for livestock may contain levels of penicillin, erythromycin and other antibiotics. Both of these are medically important drugs whose effectiveness in treating humans can be compromised by overuse in animal feed for non-sick animals.
When the Food and Drug Administration discovered the antibiotic residues in the grain in 2008, it started requiring ethanol/distiller grain producers to get approval for their presence as a food additive. But the IATP report claims that the antibiotic companies are skirting this rule by relying on their self affirmed GRAS status as approval enough. GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval requires only that a company proves to itself that its product is safe. It can voluntarily report those findings to the FDA as well.
Monday the FDA acknowledged that feeding animals distillers grain with antibiotic residues “may contribute to the emergence of drug-resistant organisms that can potentially infect humans who eat food products derived from those animals. Given the significant increase in the use of distillers dried grains as a livestock feed ingredient, FDA has decided to explore possible options for increased regulatory oversight over the use of antimicrobials in the ethanol production process when the byproducts of this process are used for animal feed.”