The Food and Drug Administration released new guidance Wednesday encouraging new steps to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock.
The guidance document essentially says producers ought to limit the use of antibiotics to treatment of specific medical conditions, rather than simply broadly distributing drugs to animal to help fatten them up.
"FDA believes that production use indications such as “increased rate of weight gain” or “improved feed efficiency” are no longer appropriate for the approved conditions of use for medically important antimicrobial drugs. In contrast, FDA considers uses that are associated with the treatment, control, and prevention of specific diseases to be therapeutic uses that are necessary for assuring the health of food-producing animals. As discussed further below, when a veterinarian determines that the use of antimicrobials is necessary to prevent the onset of diseases that are likely to occur, FDA considers this to be a judicious use of these products."
Note also that FDA suggests these be medical not production decisions:
"FDA believes that the judicious use of medically important antimicrobial new animal drugs in the feed or water of food-producing animals needs the scientific and clinical training of a licensed veterinarian."
And - keep in mind, these are, for the time being, suggestions not requirements. As FDA says:
"“FDA’s guidance documents, including this draft guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the FDA’s current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited. The use of the word should in FDA’s guidances means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required."
Here’s an FDA press release offering a little more background and explanation — “We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them,” says William Flynn, DVM, MS, deputy director for science policy at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). “Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down.”