FDA gives guidelines to limit use of antibiotics in livestock
Agency will ask pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily discontinue the flagging of drugs for animal use
Recognizing that humans have grown increasingly immune to antibiotics due to their overuse, the Food and Drug Administration has announced new guidelines to phase out their overuse as a growth enhancer in livestock. Cattle, hog and poultry producers give their animals antibiotics to prevent illness and make the animals grow faster. The FDA will now ask pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop labeling antibiotics intended for humans as acceptable for that growth promotion in animals.
The McDonald's fast-food chain has since moved to limit the drugs in meat and has persuaded many other animal producers to follow suit.
The agency has long been debating on how to address this issue. The McDonald's fast-food chain has since moved to limit the drugs in meat and has persuaded many other animal producers to follow suit.
Consumers have grown more aware of the practice and are now advocating antibiotic-free meat. The medical community has likewise become increasingly worried over the past several years by new strains of bacteria that cannot be controlled by a wide range of current antibiotics. The emergence of these "superbugs" is due to the repeated exposure to meat that contained antibiotics.
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released serious statistics last September that more than 23,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections.
"We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them," William Flynn of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine says. "Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down."
The FDA recommendation gives companies three years to comply.
FDA's Deputy Commissioner of Foods Michael Taylor said that he believes asking industry to make the changes is the fastest way to help phase the drugs out. Should the practice become mandatory, he said, the agency would have had to move forward with a complex regulatory process that could take years.
"We have high confidence based on dialogue with industry that this initiative will succeed," Taylor said.
A leading manufacturer of animal antibiotics, Zoetis says that they will comply. "This reflects our continued commitment to antibiotic stewardship and represents the many ways that Zoetis promotes the responsible use of antimicrobial drugs in animals," the company's statement said.
While agreeing to the guidelines is voluntary, Taylor said the FDA would be able to take regulatory action against companies that fail to comply once they have said they will change their labels.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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