US livestock antibiotics guidance meets mixed reaction

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

US livestock antibiotics guidance meets mixed reaction

Related tags Antibiotics Medicine Food and drug administration Beef Livestock Pork Poultry

Representatives of the American meat industry have expressed mixed reactions to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) publication of a draft guidance on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production.

The National Pork Producers’ Council (NPPC) rejected the requirement to only use antibiotics important to human medicine under veterinary supervision, saying it would particularly affect small producers who might not have easy access to veterinary services.

NPPC president R C Hunt said: “The guidance could eliminate antibiotics uses that are extremely important to the health of animals. And the requirement for​ [Veterinary Feed Directives – ie authorisation from a licensed veterinarian] could be problematic, particularly for smaller producers or producers in remote areas who may not have regular access to veterinary services.”

The Council added that the human health risk presented by antibiotics in livestock had been proved by various reports to be “negligible”​, and that FDA had not provided evidence that their use was unsafe. “Pork producers work with veterinarians to carefully consider if antibiotics are necessary and which ones to use, and we use them to keep animals healthy and to produce safe food,”​ added Hunt.

On the other hand, the American Meat Institute (AMI) welcomed the guidance, and said it would contribute to make it easy to implement. “AMI appreciates the effort the FDA has put into addressing concerns about antibiotic use in livestock and poultry production. The AMI supports the judicious use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production. We are reviewing the new guidance and look forward to working cooperatively with the agency on this issue moving forward,”​ a spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews.

The guidance aims to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance by encouraging responsible use of antibiotics on farms. The FDA aims to help animal health companies voluntarily discontinue the sale of antibiotics that are not essential for herd health, and to control the use of antibiotics deemed important for human health more strictly.

Earlier this month, Kansas State University published a study revealing that 1.6m lb (730,000kg) of antibiotics are used every year in US pork production for growth promotion and disease prevention, counterbalancing a 2001 report that estimated this number at 10.3m lb (4.68m kg).

NPPC welcomed the new study, saying that the previous report “denigrated America’s hog farmers by deliberately peddling misinformation about how they care for their animals”​, which it deemed “despicable”.

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