The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now is moving forward with a law to bring all antibiotics used on animals grown for human food consumption under veterinary oversight. What this means is that producers will only be able to get antibiotics for their animals by prescription only.
The FDA is responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and animal drugs and the food supply, among other things.
The Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine is requiring that all medically important antibiotics for food animals have to go through veterinary clinics, and develop a valid veterinary client-patient relationship.
“This means that your veterinarian knows who you are, knows the kind of livestock that you are raising, what you are doing with them, understand your management, and that you agree that if they come out to diagnosis an illness and use antimicrobial to treat a disease or illness you will follow their directions, ” said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Dr. Joe Paschal.
This new law means producers will not be able to get medications from the feed store, co-op, or online, as they could previously.
“It is going to cause a little bit of difficulty because producers that want to use antibiotics, that need to use antibiotics, are going to have to work with their beef cattle or livestock veterinarians and develop this veterinary client-patient relationship,” he said.
This new guidance is expected to become official by the end of 2020, but more than likely, it won’t have a big impact on most producers.
“In the long run, practicing good biosecurity and correct diagnosing of illness in the proper prescription of the correct antibiotic may help shorten the incident of the disease, improve the productivity or return of the health of the animal, and reduce overall antibiotic use in livestock, pets, and in humans,” he said.
The bottom line is that the FDA wants to ensure appropriate veterinary oversight of all antibiotics used in food-animal production, while continuing to keep the public safe.
“But there has never been any crossover between humans and livestock or livestock and humans," he said. "These kind of activities are designed to prevent that from ever occurring, plus extend the life, the useful life, of these currently medically important antibiotics to humans and livestock health.”
There will be a two-year phase-in, and by the end of 2023 all antibiotics for use in food animals will be by prescription only.