The Food and Drug Administration is urging meat producers to limit the amount of antibiotics they give animals in response to public health concerns about the drugs.

The FDA said the use of antibiotics in meat poses a "serious public health threat" because they create antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans who eat the meat. The agency is recommending that producers limit antibiotics unless the drugs are necessary for animal health and suggesting they only use them with the oversight of a veterinarian.

Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said antibiotics should be used only to protect the health of an animal and not to help it grow or improve the way it digests its feed.

"This is an urgent public health issue," Sharfstein said during a conference call with reporters, reports the Washington Post. "To preserve the effectiveness [of antibiotics], we simply must use them as judiciously as possible."

The agency announced the draft guidelines in the Federal Register on Monday. The FDA said they are expecting to issue more specific guidelines in the near future.

Source: Associated Press, Washington Post

Report: Ag research focusing too much on production

A new report from a federal advisory group notes that American farmers are producing more food than ever before, but not enough agricultural research is considering consequences like water and air pollution. The National Academies' National Research Council report found that farmers are being asked to produce more and more food to sustain the world's population, but with little focus beyond how many bushels of grain or pounds of vegetables or meat they can generate, reports the Associated Press.

"If farmers are going to meet future demands, the U.S. agriculture system has to evolve to become sustainable and think broadly - past the bottom line of producing the most possible," said Julia Kornegay, who chairs the Washington-based council's committee that wrote the report and heads the department of horticultural science at North Carolina State University.

The report recommends that more focus be placed on the effects of popular farming practices that can improve sustainability, while at the same time integrating research from a broad range of disciplines and spending more on that broader study.

Source: Associated Press

Jack In The Box debuts big chicken sandwich

The newest menu item at Jack in the Box restaurants is the Really Big Chicken Sandwich, which features two breaded chicken patties, lettuce, tomato, bacon, Swiss-style cheese and mayo-onion sauce served on a jumbo bakery bun. For a limited time, a combo meal featuring the new sandwich, small drink and small order of seasoned curly fries is available for just $3.99, plus tax.

"Even though the economy may be beginning to show signs of recovery, consumers are still looking for deals," said Tammy Bailey, division vice president of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box Inc. "At just $3.99, our new Really Big Chicken Sandwich Combo is a filling meal and a great value."

Source: Jack in the Box

Sonic unveils improved foot-long coney

Just in time to celebrate National Hot Dog Month, Sonic, America's Drive-In, introduces its new and improved Footlong Quarter Pound Coney, a juicy, plump foot-long hot dog topped with warm chili and cheese.

"Sonic's Coney has been a customer favorite for years," said Dominic Losacco, vice president of marketing for Sonic. "As part of Sonic's ongoing initiative to improve the quality of our products, we've made some significant changes to our signature Sonic entree to make it even tastier."

The new and improved Footlong Quarter Pound Coney is a blend of beef and pork and boasts a bigger size than ever before, weighing in at a quarter pound.

Source: Sonic, America's Drive-In