Reduce antibiotics for animal growth urges fda

Reduce antibiotics for animal growth urges fda

In the interests of human health, the US Food and Drug Administration is urging farmers and veterinarians to reduce their use of antibiotics in spurring growth of food-producing animals.

The FDA issued draft guidance on Monday that outlines the agency's current thinking on why antibiotics that are "important for therapeutic use in humans" should be used sparingly in livestock.

Dr Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine told the media that:

"Using medically important antimicrobial drugs as judiciously as possible is key to minimizing resistance development and preserving the effectiveness of these drugs as therapies for humans and animals."

While praising the efforts of many veterinarians, farmers and producers to bring in guidelines of their own, the agency said more steps were needed.

The FDA guidelines show, by way of citing published reports on antibiotic resistance, that the evidence to date supports the idea that using antibiotics for animal production or enhancing growth of livestock (ie not for therapeutic or "sub-therapeutic" reasons) is not in the interest of public health.

Antibiotics have been used in human and veterinary medicine for more than 50 years, to the enormous benefit of both. However, the developing resistance of these drugs, as misuse and overuse encourage the resistant bacteria to evolve faster than their more susceptible cousins, means people are now at greater risk of infection by the resistant strains.

"The development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious public health threat," say the FDA guidelines, adding that:

"Developing strategies for reducing antimicrobial resistance is critically important for protecting both public and animal health."

The guidelines stress that while efforts are already in effect to promote the judicious use of these drugs in human settings, there is now a need to focus on animal settings, by providing a framework for policy that calls for phasing in of measures to:

  1. Limit use of antibiotics important in human medicine to support health (rather than promote growth) of food-producing animals, and
  2. Limit the use of such drugs to settings that have veterinary oversight or consultation.
The FDA is calling first for a voluntary effort to effect the reduction, and while there are some signs of progress on a voluntary basis, this has been mostly because of decisions made by private companies.

For example in 2003, McDonald's said they were only buying chicken from producers who did not use antibiotics for routine disease prevention. After that, four of the biggest chicken producers, Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, Foster Farms and Gold Kist, revealed they had stopped using antibiotics to promote animal growth, according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

If the voluntary step does not work, the FDA is prepared to introduce new regulations.

The agency's principal deputy commissioner, Dr Joshua M. Sharfstein said in a media conference call reported by the Washington Post:

"I'm not ruling out anything that we can do to establish these important public-health goals."

The European Union banned the use of all antibiotics and related drugs for livestock growth in 2006. This followed an earlier more limited 1998 ban.

The FDA draft guidelines are available for comment for 60 days.

"The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals" (pdf)

Sources: FDA, Washington Post, Union of Concerned Scientists.

How Much Antibiotics Are In Your Meat? (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

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