Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Foundations Ask Sam Kass To Lobby The President For Regulation Of Animal Antibiotics

"Swift" action needed on FDA rules, say Pew Charitable Trusts and Chefs Collaborative...
Washington, DC  - Dubbing Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass as "America's First Chef," Pew Charitable Trusts and Chefs Collaborative have joined forces to encourage him to become an activist on the use of antibiotics in food animals, requesting that he urge President Barack Obama to take swift action to end "egregious misuses" on factory farms.  (Above, Kass)

The two foundations on Monday announced a letter-writing campaign directed at Kass, saying that his dual role as White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor make him the perfect man to plead their case.

Food and Drug Administration draft regulations covering mandatory and voluntary controls for animal antibiotics have languished without being codified for "more than 14 months," the foundations say.

"Sam Kass has demonstrated a deep commitment to creating a more sustainable and healthy food system and we're urging him to support much-needed policies to rein in the overuse of antibiotics in food animals and ensure that these drugs remain effective for future generations," said Chefs Collaborative in a news release.

"We believe that antibiotics should only be used to treat sick animals, not to compensate for unsanitary conditions or make animals grow faster." 

The foundations are asking chefs and food professionals to sign their letter online, which notes that "antibiotic overuse on industrial farms contributes to the development of drug resistant superbugs."  They'd also like Kass to lobby his boss for more stringent regulations.

"As America’s First Chef, you have the unique opportunity to help make our food system safer and more sustainable," reads the letter to Kass.  

"Please encourage President Obama and his administration to quickly finalize policies to stop antibiotic overuse and misuse on industrial farms."

The Pew Charitable Trusts, based in DC, describes itself as "a global research and public policy organization...operated as an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organization dedicated to serving the public."  Chefs Collaborative, based in Boston, describes itself as "the leading nonprofit network of chefs that’s changing the sustainable food landscape using the power of connections, education and responsible buying decisions." 

The full text of the letter:

Chef Sam Kass
Executive Director and Senior Advisor on Nutrition
Let's Move Initiative, Office of the First Lady
Executive Office of the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Chef Kass:

As fellow chefs, we are writing to ask you to support much-needed policies to rein in the overuse of antibiotics in food animals and ensure that these drugs remain effective for future generations. We share your deep commitment to creating a more sustainable and healthy food system, and believe that antibiotics should only be used to treat sick animals, not to compensate for unsanitary conditions or make animals grow faster. The cost of these farming practices to public health is simply too high. At a minimum, President Obama and his administration should swiftly finalize policies drafted by the Food and Drug Administration to end the most egregious misuses of antibiotics and expand veterinary involvement in their use on the farm.

The fact that antibiotic overuse on industrial farms contributes to the development of drugresistant superbugs is not news. Back in 1977, FDA first tried to implement policies to restrict antibiotic use for food animal production. However, Congress prevented the agency from acting. Since that time hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have confirmed the connection between drug use on the farm and resistant infections in people. The calls for action from the public health community and consumers have grown only more urgent.

At our restaurants every day, we strive to serve meat and poultry raised on farms where antibiotics are not misused. We are committed to making sure that our food is raised in a way that does not put the health of our patrons and the greater public at risk. We are doing our part and call on government and industry to do theirs.

Under President Obama’s leadership, FDA resumed its long-delayed effort to curb the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animal production. While the agency did not continue its original strategy of mandating restrictions, it is pushing a mix of voluntary and mandatory measures that instruct drug companies to stop marketing antibiotics for growth promotion and routine disease prevention and expand veterinary oversight of antibiotic use on the farm (i.e., Guidance #213 and changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive). More than 14 months have passed, though, and Guidance #213 remains in draft form and there still is no draft rule amending the Veterinary Feed Directive.

As America’s First Chef, you have the unique opportunity to help make our food system safer and more sustainable. Please encourage President Obama and his administration to quickly finalize policies to stop antibiotic overuse and misuse on industrial farms.

Sincerely,

{Your Name Here}

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*Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama