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FDA ruling curbs antibiotics

The Food and Drug Administration in June issued final rules setting new limits on antibiotic use for animals produced for food. Farmers will need a veterinarian to prescribe antibiotics for animals entering the food supply. It’s the latest step by the federal government to fight bacteria that are growing resistant to antibiotics also given to humans.

The Obama administration issued the guidelines to help ensure veterinarians are responsibly prescribing antibiotics in livestock and poultry at the right doses and only for legitimate health reasons. As part of the FDA plan, farmers will be restricted from using certain antibiotics for growth promotion purposes. The medicines will only be used to prevent, control or treat an illness. This applies to animal antibiotics deemed medically important to humans.

The new rule is set to go into effect in December 2016. The measure is part of an initiative to combat overuse of antibiotics, in people and animals,that has created what White House officials have called a global crisis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates drug-resistant bacteria cause more than 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

In December 2013, FDA asked drug companies to stop labeling antibiotics as acceptable for growth promotion in animals if the drugs also are used to treat infections in humans. The final rule issued by FDA in June has specific guidelines. “A goal of the work FDA has underway is to remove growth promotion uses of antibiotics in animal agriculture, and use them in a very judicious and targeted way at certain stages of an animal’s development,” says Catherine Woteki, USDA’s chief scientist. “This will go a long way in achieving the reduction in development of antimicrobial resistance.”

Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board in Des Moines, says the new FDA rule mirrors work already underway in the pork industry. Producers are working with veterinarians to make sure they are judiciously and responsibly using antibiotics.

“This has always been important but the new FDA requirements give it a lot more visibility,” says Sundberg. He says the industry will embrace the challenge of the new FDA rule and make sure producers know “how best to comply and how best to integrate the new antibiotic use guidelines into their operations to still maintain animal health.”

Addressing the issue at the recent 2015 World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Chris Hodges, CEO of NPB, said the pork industry has long been committed to responsible use of antibiotics. The pork board supports the new federal requirements prohibiting use of “medically important” antibiotics for growth promotion.

The pork checkoff will invest $1.4 million into antibiotic research, as well as help communicate changes to producers and consumers. The group has already spent $5.3 million since the year 2000 to research antibiotic use and resistance.

“Consumers are very concerned about antibiotic resistance,” says Hodges. “We want to assure consumers that we’re very responsible in using antibiotics. We’re not standing still on how we can better use antibiotics. Producers are working hard to improve pig health. The healthier the pigs are, the fewer antibiotics we have to use.”

Source: National Pork Board, FDA

Key Points

• FDA issues new rules for antibiotic use in animals produced for food.

• Goal is to prevent resistance to antibiotics also used by humans.

• Checkoff will invest $1.4 million in funding antibiotic research.



This article published in the July, 2015 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2015.

Animal Health

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