State Senate committee votes against some animal antibiotics


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The California Senate Food and Agriculture Committee passed a bill, by a 3-1 vote, to phase out the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animals raised for food.

Senate Bill 416, by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter), next goes to the Senate Education Committee.


Florez made school meal programs the initial target of the bill, which would forbid schools from serving meat or poultry treated with non-therapeutic antibiotics after Jan. 1, 2012. By 2015, the ban would apply to all animals raised for human consumption in the state.

“We tell people to take antibiotics only as prescribed for the very reason that they not develop resistance to these drugs they may need when they are truly sick,” Florez said in a statement. “Then we feed those same antibiotics daily to the animals they will consume.”

Several food producers and organizations opposed the bill. Among objections are that the provisions reduces the illness prevention tools that farmers or ranchers have and that banning non-therapeutic drugs could lead to an increased use of therapeutic antibiotics.

Another Florez bill, which would require food growers and processors to promptly report a positive test for any food-borne illness to the California Department of Public Health, also passed the committee Tuesday. Senate Bill 173 would also give state public health authorities the power of mandatory recall.

-- Mary MacVean