Thursday, December 12, 2013

FDA: Curb Antibiotics in Food Producing Animals

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 9:53 AM

The U.S. government announced Dec. 11 that it plans to phase out the use of certain antibiotics in the food production industry in the wake of a steady rise of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In an April 2011 investigation, Boise Weekly uncovered high levels of antibiotics and other drugs found in cattle linked to Idaho dairies (BW, News, "Got Milk? Got Drugs? Got Both?" April 6, 2011). BW learned that 40 incidents in Idaho involved eight separate drugs in cattle, including 11 violations of illegal limits of penicillin in the kidney. Eight were traced to flunixin, an anti-inflammatory analgesic, and six violations were traced to sulfadimethoxine, an antibiotic. There were four separate violations of the use of gentamicin (any trace of the drug is a violation). There were four more violations of tilmicosin (though it's not officially banned, its tolerance level is zero).

Some of the violations were off the charts. In July 2010, the FSIS discovered residue of flunixin in a cow traced to the Double A Dairy in Jerome. FSIS said the cow had 2,000 percent more flunixin than the allowed level. In another violation, a dairy cow traced back to a beef auction at the Producers Livestock Marketing Association in Jerome had sulfamethazine in its liver at 27,000 percent higher than the legal level.

But on Dec. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it would begin requiring veterinary oversight, meaning antibiotics could be used in food-producing animals only under a veterinarian's orders to treat, prevent or control disease.

The FDA also asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise their drug labels to remove animal production as an approved use, effectively making it illegal to use the drugs for growth enhancement.

"With these changes, there will be fewer approved uses, and the remaining uses will be under tighter control," said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA.
Companies have 90 days to let the FDA know if they intend to participate and three years to make the changes.


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