FDA issues Draft Guidance on ‘judicious use’ of antibiotics in food-producing animals

Antibiotics and Agriculture

New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration is taking some long overdue but still too timid steps to rein in excessive use of antibiotics in American agriculture. For years now industrial and many smaller-scale farmers have routinely fed antibiotics to their cattle, pigs and chickens to protect them from infectious diseases but also to spur growth and weight gain while using less feed. That may be good for agricultural production, but it is almost surely bad for the public’s health.

An alarming number of human pathogens have become resistant to one or more medicines, undermining the ability of doctors to treat patients effectively. Experts believe the primary cause is overprescribing in human patients, often for conditions like colds, where antibiotics are ineffective. But overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is also thought to be stimulating the emergence of resistant bacterial strains that can infect humans or pass their resistance to other germs that infect humans.

On Monday, the F.D.A. issued a “draft guidance” on the “judicious use” of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. The document suggested that the use of such drugs should be limited to treating or controlling infectious disease in animals or to prevent infections before an outbreak occurs. And in all of those cases, the drugs should be administered in consultation with a veterinarian whose oversight would likely restrain excessive use.

Read full post at New York Times

6 responses to “FDA issues Draft Guidance on ‘judicious use’ of antibiotics in food-producing animals

  1. henry.buehler

    Maryn McKenna’s Superbug provides a heart-rending and enlightening portrait of the spread of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Commonly imagined to be a disease that only affects elderly hospital patients, McKenna’s book shows that no area of the United States is untouched. Thirty percent of high school athletic programs in one survey reported MRSA. In another study, 80 percent of farms and 40 percent of pigs had MRSA. The consequences are horrific. In 2005, 94,360 invasive MRSA infections occurred in the United States, with almost 19,000 deaths.

    In the United States, the response to MRSA has been largely uncoordinated, and left to individual institutions, schools, and health care centers. American hospitals have tried a range of responses. Some hospitals have tied executive pay to staff hand-washing rates; others isolate patients with MRSA. Nationwide educational campaigns reduced antibiotic prescription rates temporarily, only to see them rise again. The pipeline for new antibiotics dried up due to economic disincentives for drug companies to invest in short-course medications like antibiotics. The medical system has not yet been able to contain antibiotic resistant pathogens like MRSA.
    The problem is just as dire on American farms. Limited action has been taken to reduce misuse of antibiotics in agriculture. While the FDA did ban agricultural usage of the powerful antibiotic fluoroquinalone, farms still regularly use powerful antibiotics as ‘growth promoters’ in daily feed for animals.

    This year, I introduced legislation, HR 1549, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would take additional steps to protect seven medically-critical classes of antibiotics for human usage against MRSA and other antibiotic resistant pathogens. Maryn McKenna’s book is a powerful call to action.

    – Louise M. Slaughter, MEMBER OF CONGRESS

  2. henry.buehler

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a rule that could weaken already-lenient controls on the use of antibiotics in food animal production.
    The new rule affects the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), a program allowing veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics mixed into animal feed in new ways. Currently, the VFD ensures that for those new antibiotic uses a diagnosis is made before animals are given antibiotics in their feed.
    Many industrial farms routinely feed antibiotics to poultry or livestock to compensate for overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, while promoting growth. Proposed changes to the VFD could weaken oversight that prevents unnecessary drug use – increasing the rate of antibiotic resistance in humans.
    Up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to healthy food animals. Weakening the VFD could breed dangerous new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans thus making these important drugs we depend on useless.

    I use antibiotics in my animals during disease outbreaks and for the prevention of infection when an animal is injured, has birthed, etc.
    I can buy penicilin over the counter at the feed store for different animals. It’s extremely effective in preventing infection in animals that have been injured. I can also buy antibiotic boluses for use after partruition to prevent uterine infections. Should I be barred from purchasing these things from the feed store without paying a vet $100 for a consult?

    So the FDA just wants to make life more dificult for small farmers
    while actualy making the problem they say they are adressing worse

  3. henry.buehler

    alternative to antibiotics (0.00 / 0)
    Charcoal powder had been commonly used to cure the intestinal disorders of animals. In 1980s the utilization of charcoal and wood vinegar extended into the fields of animal husbandry and the fish aquaculture. In the 1970’s one of the wood vinegar makers invented a tablet of charcoal powder containing wood vinegar and sold as a medicine for livestocks ; this was formally recognized by MAFF (33). When animals take the drug with the feed, it is said that the quality of meat, fat and egg can be improved because of effect on activity of intestinal microorganisms (47). Recently the use for pig and poultry increased to avoid antibiotics and to prevent epidemics.
    In general, charcoal powder has the strong ability to absorb the smell of excretions and liquid. The charcoal carbonized under lower temperature than 300 degree Celsius especially shows the strong adsorption of ammonium (48). The mixture of charcoal and wood vinegar has been used in barn of housed livestock as the deodorant and absorbent of liquid. It seems that these effects result from the complex reactions of charcoal and wood vinegar, but there has been little available scientific investigation (33).

    The material containing wood vinegar also is used in the aquaculture of eel and fish to keep water clean (33). Sometimes high quality charcoal which is carbonized under higher temperature has been also used for water purification in the fish tank. From experiences it is said that fish likes to spawn around the charcoal, probably because some algae propagate on the wood charcoal and carbon fiber

    I am trying to produce these substances
    charcoal and woodvinegar.
    I wonder how long it will be before the EPA starts proceedings against me

  4. The Union of Concerned Scientists advises that a recent study reveals “the number of genes for antibiotic resistance in soil microbes has significantly increased over the past 70 years” – fifteen-fold in the case of tetracyclins.

    “Genes that confer resistance significantly increased over time for every antibiotic drug class they tested. Genes that confer resistance to tetracycline antibiotics are 15 times more abundant in current-day soil samples than in samples even from the 1970s.”

    Support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act.

    (from my Feb. 2010 article, https://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/over-drugged-animals-superbugs-and-dirt-the-movie/)

    okay, it looks to me like there is industry wide abuse of antibiotics.

    I hear that small farmers feel this will overburden them when having to go to a vet, by making them pay a vet bill to get the drug they need.

    well, the same can be said of any of us when sick. we don’t get to prescribe our own medication; why should anyone do that without proper training and education?

    as it is now, it’s worse for all of us that anyone can prescribe drugs for their animals — superbugs have resulted.

  5. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Food Freedom

  6. Testing proves the presence, not the absence, of bugs.

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