FDA to phase out antibiotic use in food animals

The plan aims to limit the use of antibiotics in animals to when it is medically necessary, as their excessive use leads to drug resistance.

By Ananth Baliga

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Food and Drug Administration is implementing a plan to phase out the use of antimicrobials, also known as antibiotics, in food production, to prevent resistance to such drugs.

Antibiotics are used in animal feed or drinking water of animals like cattle, poultry and hogs to help increase their weight without having to eat more food. Some of these antibiotics are useful to humans and their excessive use had led to bacteria and other microbes growing immune to them.


The FDA hopes to phase out the use of such antibiotics, and limit their use to only when it is medically important.

“This action promotes the judicious use of important antimicrobials to protect public health while ensuring that sick and at-risk animals receive the therapy they need,” said Bernadette Dunham, an official at the FDA.

The move would also establish veterinary oversight to judge the appropriate therapeutic use of such drugs. As a result, veterinary pharmaceutical companies will have to change over the counter status of such drugs to bring them under their oversight. The FDA also wants these companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved use conditions on the labels.


The FDA is asking pharmaceutical companies to express their intent to join the plan within the next three months, to be followed by a three-year transition period.

“We realize that these steps represent changes for veterinarians and animal producers, and we have been working -- and will continue to work -- to make this transition as seamless as possible," said Dunham.


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