The Food and Drug Administration asked farmers to voluntarily stop using more than 200 antibiotic products for growth promotion and instead devote them solely to treat and prevent diseases. Drugs relabeled for disease prevention would no longer be available to farmers over the counter. Instead, a veterinarian would prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline for livestock herds.
According to the FDA, 80 percent of antibiotics sold in theUnited Statesare destined for animal use.
Since the 1960s, antibiotics have been added to animal diets via feed and water to prevent diseases and - more controversially - to stimulate livestock growth. But concerns over antibiotic-resistant bacteria began in the late 1970s when FDA officials first attempted to restrict their use.
The new federal guideline signals a major turning point for FDA and drug use forAmerica’s livestock herd.
Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food, heralded the guidelines as a breakthrough, saying:
“There is a real buy-in from the drug companies. They realize the time has come to make this shift.”
The CEO of Elanco, Jeff Simmons, approves of the guidelines and said his Indiana-based firm plans to steer clear of some company antibiotics in an effort to adopt more natural alternatives.
Despite steady applause from some consumer groups, various farm organizations urged caution. The National Pork Producer Council said the FDA rule “could be problematic, particularly for smaller producers or producers in remote areas who may not have regular access to veterinary services.”
After a 90-day comment period, companies will have three years to implement FDA’s guidelines.