FDA restricts livestock antibiotics, but is it enough?

Dive Brief:

  • The Food and Drug Administration said it has completed the implementation of "Guidance for Industry #213," which is designed to eliminate the use of antimicrobial drugs and antibiotics used in the feed or drinking water of food-producing animals such as pigs and cows to increase growth and production, according to Food Safety News.
  • The FDA reported that animal drug manufacturers started meeting the new standards for labels on “antimicrobial drugs with importance in human medicine."
  • GFI #213 impacted 292 animal drug applications, and as of early January, 84 were completely withdrawn. More than 90 applications for oral dosage products intended for use in water were converted from over-the-counter to prescription status and 115 applications intended for use in feed were converted from over-the-counter to veterinary feed directives status.

Dive Insight:

Although it’s taken approximately four decades to complete, the FDA has finally instituted controls on a percentage of antibiotics used in meat-producing animals to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria that threaten human health.

For years, manufacturers have beefed up the cows and pigs they use by giving them antibiotics to help them gain weight, many of which were purchased in a feed store or over the internet with no veterinary oversight. The process, known as “growth promotion,” is illegal under the new rules.

These restrictions put the U.S. in the same class as the European Union, which has outlawed growth-promoting antibiotic use for more than 10 years. However, the restrictions are not as stringent as some would have liked, and many advocates of the rule feel it won’t have the impact they had hoped. Preventive dosing and therapeutic dosing are both still allowed.

And while many producers are trying to get away from using antibiotics, recent data by the FDA reveals that antibiotic use in U.S. food animals has increased exponentially over the last number of years, with 34.3 million pounds last year, 21.4 million pounds of which being labeled as “medically important.”

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Meat / Protein
Top image credit: mensatic