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FDA urged to end approval of antibiotics for animal feed

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several other groups have filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging it to withdraw approval of the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry for disease prevention or growth promotion.

antibiotics

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several other groups have filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging it to withdraw approval of the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry for disease prevention or growth promotion.

The petition says the FDA is failing to protect people from the rising health threat of antibiotic resistance.

“Using antibiotics to cut costs in meat production means humans will pay dearly as the human medicines fail to work,” said Jonathan Kaplan, Director of the Food and Agriculture Program at NRDC, in a blog post

Judicious use policy

The FDA has a judicious use of antibiotics policy, which includes limiting medically important antimicrobial drugs to uses in food-producing animals that are considered necessary for assuring animal health, and to those that include veterinary oversight or consultation.

The agency has published two guidance documents regarding the judicious use of antibiotics, CVM GFI #209 and CVM GFI #213.

According to FDA guidance #209, the use of medically important antibiotics will no longer be allowed for growth promotion and these drugs will now require veterinary oversight (i.e. a prescription for feed-grade and water-based antibiotics). To obtain such drugs, U.S. producers and feed mills will now need a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) order, a written statement provided by a veterinarian that authorizes a client use of a VFD drug or combination VFD drug in or on animal feed to treat animals.

Guidance #213 sets the three-year road map to move medically important antibiotics from over-the-counter (OTC) to VFD status by Jan. 1, 2017, the date when the updated VFD will go into effect.

When asked for comment, the FDA said it “will respond directly to the petitioners, as it does for all citizen petitions.”

Other groups included in the petition are The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Earthjustice, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and California Public Interest Research Group.

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