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Animal Agriculture Alliance issues statement on World Health Organization antibiotic report

Publication Date: 11/7/2017

WHO report ignores industry strides on responsible antibiotic use

 

November 7, 2017 – Animal agriculture – farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, feed mills and animal health companies – is dedicated to providing a safe and healthy food supply for everyone. That dedication starts on the farm with ensuring livestock and poultry are also healthy. As part of that commitment, the U.S. animal agriculture community has already implemented significant changes in the way antibiotics are used.

Unfortunately, a recent report released by the World Health Organization ignores these efforts. The report calls for ending the use of medically-important antimicrobials in food-producing animals for growth promotion, but fails to mention this is already the case on American farms and ranches. Agricultural interests are deeply engaged in leading the way for change. Producers, veterinarians, animal health companies and the feed industry are working cooperatively with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement the new FDA guidance that went into effect January 1, 2017, requiring antibiotics similar to those used in human medicine no longer be used to promote growth in animals. It also requires licensed veterinarians be in charge of all remaining uses of these antibiotics. As a result, these “medically important” antibiotics are used in food animals only to fight disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

A second recommendation from the report is to end all use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals for prevention of disease. Keeping animals healthy is a top priority for farmers and veterinarians; healthy animals mean a safe and wholesome food supply and in turn, healthy people. Veterinarians and farmers work together to create flock and herd health management programs to prevent diseases before they develop and spread. To prevent and manage infectious diseases, it is sometimes necessary for veterinarians and farmers to turn to antibiotics. Research has shown the proper use of antibiotics can keep food animals healthy and reduce the potential for harmful bacterial contamination of finished meat products.

We understand and share the concerns of the public regarding the responsible use of antibiotics. There are several layers of protection to ensure that the use of antibiotics for animals does not impact human health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) work alongside the veterinary community, animal health companies, farmers and ranchers to protect human health. Measures in place from these groups include FDA approval and risk assessment processes, government food safety monitoring programs and responsible-use programs for veterinarians.

Animal agriculture believes antibiotics should be used judiciously – the right medicine, at the right dose, and for the correct amount of treatment time - but judicious use is not necessarily synonymous with reduced use. Withholding treatment from sick animals to meet reduced use targets is neither judicious nor humane. The ability to treat and prevent disease is vitally important in both human and animal health. The new FDA guidance ensures the experts - licensed veterinarians - will make these decisions and maintain oversight regarding the treatment of food animals. More about this collaboration between farmers, veterinarians and the FDA is highlighted on the new website http://www.togetherabx.com/ created by groups dedicated to ensuring animal health.

About the Alliance:

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation.
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