US: The responsible use of antibiotics in food-producing animals
Posted: April 18th, 2012 - 12:32pm
Last week the FDA took its biggest step yet to prohibit medically important drugs from being used to promote animal growth. For clarity, in this context “medically important” means antibiotics that could save your life or mine if we have a life-threatening infection.
FDA’s proposal says three documents were sent to the Federal Register on the April 12.
The FDA news release contains this quote from an old friend from my USDA days, John Clifford, DVM, USDA Chief Veterinary Medical Officer: “We will continue to collaborate with the FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association and livestock groups to ensure that the appropriate services are available to help make this transition.”
One key to the FDA proposal is that “medically important drugs will no longer be available as over the counter meds and will be available only with a Veterinarian’s prescription.
What this proposal apparently does not do is remove those antibiotics that are not medically important from the list of meds that can still be used as feed additives and growth promoters.
The Animal Health Institute, which represents drug manufacturers, was quoted by Agri-Pulse as saying “We strongly support responsible use of antibiotic medicines and the involvement of a veterinarian whenever antibiotics are administered to food producing animals.”
But the National Pork Producers Council, one of the largest industry opponents to antibiotic control measures, said it would “have a negative effect on animal health.”
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said, “Much more must be done.”
A spokesperson for Elanco, a producer of some of the drugs in the debate, told me that “There are a number of groups that would seek to arbitrarily eliminate use of medicines in animal care, but taking away medicine doesn’t take away disease. We support the principles of this guidance as a means to protect long-term veterinarian and producer access to medicines.”
I have blogged on this before, and said that true science must prevail over political science, and that the polarizing views expressed by many in the news today must give way to an intelligent discussion of the true issues involved.
This view, I believe, is only magnified by what has happened at BPI with the lean finely textured beef (LTFB) issue as a result of the hysteria created by the media, mainstream and social.
In the near future, I intend to pen a blog titled “Antibiotic use in food-producing animals, truth vs. fiction”. I hope you will enjoy it.
To close, I want to quote my former Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA, Scott Hurd, DVM, from a blog he posted on April 11:
“Moving forward, I suggest that decisions made about antibiotic use must be founded in science and based on true risks to human health. Anything short of such an approach will lead to true human harm by hampering the ability of agriculture to feed a growing population, one that includes you and me.”