The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently instated a proposal that would begin to eliminate the antibiotics used for non-medical purposes in animal feed in the U.S.
Their plan is to initiate a voluntary process in which the feed products containing antibiotics used solely for enhanced growth and food production would be phased out.
Antibiotics used for enhancement purposes are put in animal feed or drinking water in order to make the animals gain weight quickly. It is also used to reduce the amount of food that is needed to increase bulk in the animals. It is commonly used in cattle and hogs, but is also given to many other farm animals.
There has long been scrutiny about the over-prescription and overuse of antibiotics in the U.S.
When antimicrobial drugs are used, a resistance to them can be built up so they can become less effective the next time they are needed. Using them when they are not medically necessary can actually do more harm than good, in animals and humans. This causes concern for the human population as when the drug resistant bacteria are introduced to the food supply they are transferrable to those that consume products containing them.
When there is a large amount of antimicrobial resistant bacteria looming around, this can create a major public health threat. Strains of these bacteria can spread, and there is an increased risk of fatality as the treatment has lost its effectiveness when antibiotics are overused. The FDA has recognized this as a significant issue that needs addressed, thus they have begun the process for removing any of the non-medically necessary antibiotics in animal feed supplies.
They are providing steps that outline how the phase-out process would work, and how pharmaceutical companies in the animal industry can collaborate to eliminate the use of enhancement antibiotics as a routine. They are suggesting a 3 year time frame to fully instate the removal.
The FDA recommends that the enhancement process should not be listed as an approved use of antibiotics. Further, they suggest more veterinary monitoring in the administration of antibiotics to farm stock as well as removing therapeutic uses of antibiotics from over the counter availability. This would ensure that animals that are ill or diseased will benefit from treatment, and those that are healthy and do not need the additives in their diet are not subjected to them.
They have offered the voluntary procedure as they are confident that those in the industry will work to include the changes.
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