The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced steps to address the problem of antibiotic resistance in foodborne bacteria. A new plan designed to ensure the “judicious use of antibiotics in food animals” is now being implemented.
The plan aims to phase out the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food animals as growth promoters and to phase in veterinary oversight of the therapeutic use of those drugs. It therefore focuses on antimicrobials that are used to treat human infections and are also approved for addition to animal feed and water.
The plan includes a “road map” for animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the labels of FDA-approved antimicrobial drugs so that they no longer include conditions for food production applications. Guidance is also given for the companies to change the current over-the-counter status of these drugs so that remaining therapeutic uses come under veterinary control.
Pharmaceutical businesses now have three months to notify the FDA that they will sign up to the new strategy and then a further three years to implement it. Campaigners have welcomed the intent of the FDA plan but some are critical of the fact that it depends entirely on industry cooperation and have expressed doubts that it will reduce antibiotic use in agriculture.
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