Task Force Identifies Loophole in Antibiotic Laws

CANADA - A Canadian task force recently published a report saying that a 'loophole' that allows untested livestock antibiotics into the country should be left open until further studies are finished.
calendar icon 9 April 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

The report, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said that seven years after Canadian experts called for tighter rules governing unrestricted imports of unapproved and untested antibiotics, a task force is advising Health Canada to bide its time and conduct further studies rather than immediately close a loophole that allows farmers to import such drugs without regulatory scrutiny.

The loophole now allows Canadian farmers to import an estimated $100-million worth of drugs — including drugs not approved for use in Canada — from around the world.

Food industry representatives on the task force want Ottawa to keep it open for at least two more years while a study is conducted on whether some limited restrictions might work.

In the meantime, Canadian Animal Health Institute data indicate that an estimated one-third of all veterinary drugs used in Canada will continue to be imported with almost no scrutiny from safety regulators.

Most antibiotics used by meat producers are given to healthy animals either to accelerate growth or as a prophylactic. Meat producers say the practice is necessary to keep them competitive with producers in the United States and other countries. But public health experts worry that antibiotic-resistant bacteria on meat are contributing to drug resistance in humans.

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