There is a mixed bag of reactions regarding the latest statement of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the use of antibiotics in pigs, poultry and other food animals.
This week, the agency asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily put proposed limits in place. They would need to adjust the labelling of their antibiotics to remove so-called production uses of the antibiotics. The agency also wants to require a vet to prescribe the antibiotics.
Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco, a large animal pharmaceutical company in Greenfield, Indiana, agrees with the the FDA's move. Putting antibiotic use ‘under the oversight of the veterinarian is critical’, he said.
He said that his company already plans to veer away from some of its antibiotics and adopt more natural alternatives.
No compelling evidence
Advocates in the US agriculture industry, however, argue the drugs are a key part of modern meat production. The US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) replied to the FDA statement, saying that the agency ‘did not provide compelling evidence’ that antibiotic use in livestock is unsafe.
The NPPC added that the plan ‘could be problematic, particularly for smaller producers or producers in remote areas who may not have regular access to veterinary services.’ The group also said the plan could increase the cost of food.
Iowa State University
Iowa State University associate professor, Dr Scott Hurd, a known advocate of drugs use in pork business replied to the latest FDA initiative in a weblog. He wrote, “Please do not let the genteel approach of my professional FDA colleagues fool you. This action is big! It will result in the end of all antibiotic uses that are critically important to humans as well as those not labeled for the treatment or prevention of a specific animal pathogen or ‘bad bug’.”
He also warned that the impact on pork producers could be immediate. “Although Guidance 209 does not take effect for three years, most of the veterinarians I know in large pork production companies have already begun to comply. Additionally, I can assure you, the packers who buy that pork will make every effort to ensure compliance with FDA’s ‘voluntary guidance’ particularly through the producer’s Quality Assurance Program.”
Several anti-drugs campagining organisations responded, calling it ‘the most sweeping action the agency has undertaken’ – but others expressed worries that they do not trust the drug industry to voluntarily restrict its own products.
There already is a shift away from long-term change the over-use of antibiotics in animal feeds. In the European Union prophylactic use of antibiotics has been banned for several years now and McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken do not accept it.
• Food and Drug Administration
• Iowa State University
• National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)