WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday issued guidelines to to cut back the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food.
The FDA issued three documents to help veterinarians, farmers and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously by targeting their use to address diseases and health problems.
The new voluntary initiative would require certain antibiotics not be used for so-called "production" purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. The antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control or treat illnesses under veterinary supervision, officials said.
"It is critical that we take action to protect public health," Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the FDA said in a statement. "The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective. We are also reaching out to animal producers who operate on a smaller scale or in remote locations to help ensure the drugs they need to protect the health of their animals are still available."
A drug may no longer be as effective in treating various illnesses or infections once bacteria or other microbes develop resistance to the effects of a drug, so it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary, Hamburg said.