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FDA Not Required to Hold Public Hearings about Antibiotic Use in Animal Feed

Update Date: Jul 25, 2014 03:22 PM EDT

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the FDA is not legally required to hold public hearings when evaluating the potential health risks involved with using antibiotics in animal feed.

The FDA was under fire from several health groups and consumer organizations for deciding not to hold public hearings that would decide on the use of antibiotics in animal feed. In 2011, four consumer advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the agency. The groups urged the FDA to withdraw its approval of the use of penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed unless the drug manufacturing companies can prove that the drugs are harmless. As a part of the lawsuit, the groups stated that the FDA should hold hearings to review scientific evidence.

These groups stated that antibiotic use, which make cattle and livestock develop at a faster pace, can become a threat to global health because there is evidence suggesting that the overuse of these antibiotics can increase resistance. When people start developing resistance, antibiotics treatments for simple infections would no longer be effective.

In response to the groups' demands, the court found that the FDA does not have to hold these hearings due to the fact that the agency has not officially reported that the use of antibiotics is dangerous.

"[Congress] has not required the FDA to hold hearings whenever FDA officials have scientific concerns about the safety of animal drug usage [and] that the FDA retains the discretion to institute or terminate proceedings to withdraw approval of animal drugs..." the appeals court wrote reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The appeals court ruling "gives a free pass to ignore science when it is politically inconvenient," commented Jennifer Sorenson, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, reported by Philly.

The appeals court ruling can be found here.

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