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Federal regulators should collect farm level data on antibiotics in cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys to track whether use of the drugs is diminishing, public health groups, scientists and several senators urged.

The senators asked the secretaries of Defense, Agriculture and Health and Human Services, who jointly lead the interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, to outline a plan to address gaps in enforcement,
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data collection and policy evaluation. After waiting for a response to a December 2014 letter, the senators resent their request on Aug. 17. “The FDA has access to data on antibiotic sales and distribution and can measure resistance patterns in food samples, but does not have any clear mechanism for collecting data on how antibiotics are actually being used in food production,” the senators wrote. “FDA should require submission of all VFDs and publish an annual report summarizing the information contained in them, including drug class, animals species for which they are issued and indication,” more than 50 scientists that study antibiotic resistance wrote in comments on the FDA proposal to collect sales data. “Even though all VFD’s written might not be filled, this information is still helpful in understanding intended antibiotic use in food animal production.”

FDA should collect information from feed manufacturers on the amount of antibiotics distributed in feed to farms. “When this information is combined with the information contained in VFDs it will provide important information about the 70% of antibiotics administered in feed every year,
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” the scientists said.