"No Infectious Diseases Being Treated" With Animal Feed, VFD Impacts

December 14, 2016 12:51 PM

Food animal producers will have the opportunity to know their veterinarians better. In less than a month, feeds containing certain antibiotics will no longer be available to everyone. Instead, farmers will need approval of a DMV.

Feed stores are making inventory adjustments to comply with the U.S. FDA’s new veterinary feed directive (VFD).

On Jan. 1, 2017, buying certain feed and water-soluble products with antibiotics will require paperwork signed by licensed veterinarians. David White, former FDA chief science officer coordinated research on antibiotic resistance.

“The FDA does not want to take antibiotics away to treat sick animals,” said White.

He now leads agricultural research as the University of Tennessee. He said the new rules aim to curb blanket antibiotic use.

“When you look at how those antimicrobials are being used, there’s no infectious disease being treated,” said White. “It’s for growth promotion or feed efficiency of the animal.”

The level of risk to humans is debatable, but scientists say it exists.

“There is plenty of science to show that antibiotic use in animals selects for bacteria,” said White. “But it gets a little grayer as you start moving from contaminating meat to then causing an infection then then being treated with an antibiotic where you don’t get better.”

“I think we’d be foolish to not look back at historical evidence we have from Denmark where 12 years ago they went through the same thing where they pulled growth promotion antibiotics,” said Dr. Dave Pyburn, vice president of science and technology with the National Pork Board.

Pyburn says there are a lot of U.S. producers who have pulled out of growth promotions before the Jan. 1 date who aren’t seeing many disease issues. He said it may be due to biosecurity practices or vaccines.

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