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A California federal court has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Sanderson Farms Inc. misleads consumers about the presence of antibiotics in its chickens. Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms Inc., No. 17-3592 (N.D. Cal., entered December 3, 2018). The plaintiffs—several advocacy groups—assert that Sanderson's marketing misleads consumers into believing that its chickens are raised without antibiotics, while Sanderson argues that its labeling, advertisements and website communicate to consumers that the chicken products they purchase do not contain antibiotics. "Sanderson argues its infographic on its '100% Natural' webpage contains only true statements: it shows what ingredients are not added to the chicken and says nothing about antibiotic use or nonuse," the court stated. "Defendant appears to make an expressio unius argument: that because antibiotics are not included in the list of excluded artificial ingredients, a reasonable consumer could not conclude that antibiotics are also excluded. As…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent a warning letter to Roorda Dairy advising that an investigation of its premises revealed cattle sold for food that tested positive for unapproved antibiotics. The agency purportedly tested muscle tissue and found antibiotics used contrary to the approved label use and found no evidence of veterinary supervision. FDA’s approach to antibiotics in cattle use has been criticized, including a March 2018 New York Times report on the agency’s distinction between antibiotics for growth, which is not allowed, and antibiotics for disease prevention, which is acceptable under FDA standards. In 2017, the World Health Organization recommended ending the routine use of antibiotics in healthy animals.

A New York Times opinion piece has detailed the efforts of Sandy Lewis, an organic cattle farmer, to persuade fellow ranchers and others in the agriculture industry not to administer antibiotics for growth in cattle. Lewis, a former arbitrageur, has called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban and criminalize the use of antibiotics before cattle are sick, a prophylactic use acceptable under the agency's regulation banning antibiotics for growth promotion. The piece echoes a March 2018 report from the New York Times on the effects of antibiotic use in cattle feed on antibiotic resistance and gut microbes.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) alleging that they have failed, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, to produce documents pertaining to risk assessments for antibiotics used in livestock production. NRDC v. FDA, No. 12-4757 (S.D.N.Y., filed June 18, 2012). Seeking a declaration that the defendants violated FOIA and an order that they disclose “all responsive, non-exempt records to plaintiff within fifteen days,” NRDC refers to industry guidance that FDA issued in 2003 on “assessing the safety of antimicrobial new animal drugs with regard to the microbiological effects on bacteria of human health concern” and actions the defendants have taken since then relying on the guidance. After FDA acknowledged in a December 2011 Federal Register notice that it had begun “to look at the safety of some .…

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