Monday, June 28, 2010

Antibiotic Use in Livestock Production: New FDA Guidance

Today, the FDA announced the issuance of its Draft Guidance on The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals. FDA's press release states that this guidance is "intended to help reduce the development of resistance to medically important antimicrobial drugs" and calls for their "judicious [use] in animal agriculture."

The draft guidance summarizes the current research on antimicrobial resistance and concludes that "using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth enhancing purposes (i.e., non-therapeutic or subtherapeutic uses) in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health." The guidance recommends "phasing in measures that would limit medically important antimicrobial drugs to uses in food-producing animals that are considered necessary for assuring animal health and that include veterinary oversight or consultation."

Although some in the livestock industry are likely to criticize the report, the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria is (or should be) of particular concern to those in livestock production, where farmers, farm workers, and meat processors are particularly vulnerable and are already contracting resistant infections.

The Pew Commission on Industrial Animal Production estimates that seventy percent of antibiotics are used in livestock production, most for increased growth production and disease prevention rather than treatment. The World Health Organization and many medical groups have long called for greater regulation to preserve antimicrobials for true public health needs.

While there are multiple causes underlying the development of antibiotic resistance, feeding livestock antibiotics and other antimicrobials at sub-therapeutic levels for growth promotion and to allow greater concentration of production is not a wise use of these critical weapons against disease. The public health risk is far too great.

The Guidance is available online on the FDA's website. Comments are requested. The Federal Register announcement will be published on June 29, 2010.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good thing. Does it apply to cows as well?

Would something like this force cow farmers to stop feeding cows corn slurry, due to the health problems developed from that diet? If they can't use antibiotics, they can't feed the cows corn. Right?

7/01/2010 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all corn has antibiotics. That is something that must be added to the feed supply. Feeding cattle corn is actually beneficial as it helps the animal gain weight faster than grass/pasture feeding. With a growing population that fast growth is needed.

3/19/2012 1:12 AM  

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