FDA releases antimicrobial reports on meat, livestock

Feb 8, 2013
by WLJ

Tuesday, Feb. 5 saw the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) release two of its largest annual reports dealing with antibiotics, agriculture and beef: the “Annual Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Food- Producing Animals” for 2011 (Antimicrobial report), and the “2011 NARMS Retail Meat Annual Report”

(NARMS report). The antimicrobial report showed that the sale and distribution of antimicrobial drugs for use in food animals in 2011 was largely up compared to 2010, with the exception of Sulfas and drugs not independently reported. The NARMS report indicated ground beef was doing well in 2011 in terms of reduced positive samples of E. coli, and comparatively lower rates of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli strains.

Antimicrobial report

The Antimicrobial report is a relatively new official FDA report which was created because of the Animal Drug User Fee Act, as amended in 2008. It requires antimicrobial drug sponsors to annually report the amount of antimicrobial active ingredient in the drugs they sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals, and that FDA provide this information to the public.

Due to the volume of data which must be sifted through for the reports, their release lags significantly behind the year about which they report.

FDA’s annual summary report for 2011 is presented in the table above. The totals presented represent all approved uses of all dosage forms (injectable, oral, and medicated feed) of the antimicrobial drugs cleared for use in food-producing animals.

Compared to the 2010 numbers, usage of all listed classes of antimicrobial drugs—with the exceptions of Sulfas and drugs for which there were three or fewer sponsors—increased in 2011, in some cases significantly. Tetracyclines for domestic use saw the smallest year-toyear increase in usage at up 0.9 percent, and Tetracyclines for export use saw the largest year-to-year increase in usage at up 53.7 percent.

Sulfa use saw a decrease of 26.7 percent, and antimicrobials which were only minimally represented declined in usage 0.5 percent domestically and 10.3 percent in export.

FDA included a caution in the report, pointing out that several variables make it difficult to compare antimicrobial sales and distribution data in food-producing animals with such data collected for antimicrobials intended for human use. Things such as differences in number of humans versus food-producing animals, differing weights and dosages, and differences in the purposes of use are important to keep in mind.

NARMS report

The annual NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System) report aims to monitor bacterial presence in raw, unprocessed retail meats, and record antimicrobial resistance found among foodborne Salmonella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus and E. coli. According to the Center for Veterinary Medicine, antimicrobial resistance in these organisms is influenced by the use of antimicrobial agents in food animals.

State public health labs in 11 different states across the nation collect and test samples of retail meat—chicken, ground turkey, ground beef, and pork chops—though not all states test for all four of the bacteria tracked. Additionally, only poultry samples are cultured for Campylobacter.

The 2011 NARMS report showed that prevalence of ground beef samples testing positive for Enterococcus, and E. coli were down compared to 2010, and slightly up for Salmonella. Salmonella-positive samples went from 0.5 percent in 2010 to 0.7 percent in 2011. Despite that, ground beef still maintained its rank of least Salmonella-positive retail meat sampled.

The rate of ground beef samples positive for Enterococcus dropped from 90.2 in 2010 to 88.1 percent in 2011. E. coli rates were significantly down between 2010 and 2011, going from 58.5 percent to 44.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, ground beef remained in second place behind pork chops for lowest infection rates. Ground turkey had the highest culture-positive E. coli rate of 76.7 percent.

In terms of antimicrobial resistance found in samples found positive for E. coli, chicken and ground turkey, to a lesser extent, were the culprits far more so than ground beef. NARMS reported Ceftriaxone resistance among E. coli isolates from retail chicken was consistently higher than any other retail meat tested, and Gentamicin resistance is much higher in retail chicken and turkey samples (more than 20 percent) than ground beef and pork chop samples (less than 5 percent). Additionally, no ground beef samples found positive for E. coli were nalidixic acid resistant, while culture-positive chicken and ground turkey samples saw low resistance levels. — WLJ