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WHO Chief Calls on Consumers to Choose “Antibiotic-Free” Meat

In a recent address to the UN General Assembly, the World Health Organization Chief urged consumers to choose “antibiotic free” meats.

  • For years, Food and Drug Administration, USDA, and various industry stakeholders have sought to tackle public health concerns associated with the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth or feed efficiency in food-producing animals.  In the U.S., FDA is working with industry to gradually phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for production purposes.

  • In a recent address to the UN General Assembly late last month, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization called on consumers to choose “antibiotic free” meat, noting that doing so would help stem the “slow motion tsunami” ofantimicrobial resistance.

  • To be sure, meat industry stakeholders certainly recognize the potential human health risks posed by the abuse of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in food-producing animals and, to that end, have been working with industry to promote the judicious use of antibiotics in food-producing animals in the U.S.  That being said, meat industry groups are certain to challenge the WHO Chief’s blanket recommendation on grounds that the judicious use of antibiotics in food producing animals is safe.  It remains to be seen whether and how the WHO Chief’s aggressive position will affect the statements and recommendations of medical and public health groups going forward.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 279


About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...