Tuesday the White House hosted a forum on antibiotic stewardship (H/T Reuters). It’s the latest in a sequence of actions the Administration has held over the last several months on the issue. Attending the forum were representatives from food producers, hospitals, restaurant chains and medical societies. Several companies have announced measures to reduce and/or eliminate the use of antibiotics in their products and services (The White House included a list of company actions with its Fact Sheet on the event).
The actions taken by companies are focused on curtailing the use of medically important antibiotics – drugs intended for medical uses (whether for humans or animals) and not growth promotion. In the case of restaurants and food producers, this usually means restricting or eliminating the use of such drugs. For medical providers and medical societies, the focus is on not only reducing the overprescription of these drugs, but also on improving related medical tests. These tests include detecting resistant pathogens and the sensitivity of pathogens to various strains of antibiotics. Reporting on antibiotic use and the persistence of pathogens will increase as well.
As part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum setting preferences for how the kind of meat and poultry the government will purchase. For Federal cafeterias that preference will be for meat and poultry grown consistent with responsible antibiotic use policies. Agencies operating cafeterias serving their employees will need to incorporate this preference into their procurement practices by 2020.