Yesterday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is taking three steps to protect public health and promote the "judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals." In reaction to the news, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and National Pork Producer's Council (NPPC) said their producers are already working with veterinarians to assure a safe food supply.
In a statement, the NPPC said, "The loss of and restricted access to products expected with implementation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidance on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production likely will disproportionately affect small producers, have a negative effect on animal health and increase the cost of producing food while not improving public health."
"The guidance could eliminate antibiotics uses that are extremely important to the health of animals," said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. "And the requirement for VFDs could be problematic, particularly for smaller producers or producers in remote areas who may not have regular access to veterinary services.
"FDA did not provide compelling evidence nor did it state that antibiotics use in livestock production is unsafe," adds Hunt, who pointed out that the agency already has authority to withdraw unsafe products. "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."
Tom Talbot, a California beef producer, large animal veterinarian and current chairman of NCBA's Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, said, "Raising healthy cattle is the top priority for cattle farmers and ranchers. They work with veterinarians and animal health experts to implement comprehensive herd-health plans, which include the judicious use of antibiotics to prevent, control and treat any cattle health issues. NCBA is pleased that FDA has resisted unscientific calls to completely ban the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials in cattle and other livestock species. However, we remain concerned with regulatory actions that are not based on peer-reviewed science or that set the precedent to take animal care and health decisions out of the hands of veterinarians."
"NCBA raised concern with FDA’s Guidance 209 in 2010 because the agency lacked the necessary science in its recommendations. Antimicrobial resistance is multifaceted, extremely complex issue that cannot be adequately addressed solely by focusing on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Prudent and responsible evaluation of this issue must consider animal, human and industrial use of antibiotics. While we appreciate the agency working with industry on the implementation of Guidance 209, we remain committed that a strong science foundation is critical before moving forward with this guidance," adds Talbot.