This Week's Pig News Round-Up

9 January 2012, at 11:42pm

ANALYSIS - FDA has announced it is to tighten the use of antimicrobials in farm animals, prohibiting the cephalosporins except in exceptional cases, writes Jackie Linden, senior editor of ThePigSite. This has been described as "a modest first step" to cut overall antimicrobial use but industry bodies have not welcomed the decision without reservation. Also in the news this week: the EU has postponed its proposed rule on organic feeds, cutting food waste as a means of feeding the growing population and a new development in Strep suis control.

USDA Food and Drug Administration's recent decision to ban 'extra-label' or unapproved uses for certain antibiotics is a small step in the direction towards reducing the potential risk of antibiotic resistance in humans.

The order from the FDA, which comes into effect on 5 April this year, prohibits certain uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

The FDA says it is taking this action to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans and prohibiting these uses is intended to reduce the risk of cephalosporin resistance in certain bacterial pathogens.

The Administration stressed that antimicrobial drugs are important for treating disease in both humans and animals. This new order takes into consideration the substantial public comment FDA received on a similar order that it issued in 2008, but revoked prior to implementation.

However, the new order only bans cephalosporin drugs at unapproved dose levels, frequencies, durations, or routes of administration and it prohibits using cephalosporin drugs in cattle, pigs, chickens or turkeys that are not approved for use in that species, e.g. cephalosporin drugs intended for humans or companion animals, and also bars the use of cephalosporin drugs for disease prevention.

Veterinarians will still be able to use or prescribe cephalosporins for limited 'extra-label' use in farm animals, provided they follow the dose, frequency, duration, and route of administration that is on the label. They may also use or prescribe cephalosporins for 'extra-label' uses in minor species of food-producing animals such as ducks or rabbits.

Even Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who is leading a campaign to prohibit the use of drugs that could cause antibiotic resistance in humans, described the FDA move at "a modest first step".

In the EU, there has been a very rare case of the authorities extending the derogation allowing five per cent non-organic feed ingredients in organic diets for poultry and pigs.

Until the end of last year, producers were able to feed five per cent of non-organic feed to organic pigs.

However, on 1 January 2012, European legislation was set to come into play which would have meant that all organic poultry and pig producers would have to have fed 100 per cent organic feed.

Instead, the European Commission has said that it will extend the derogation after the industry expressed concerns for animal welfare.

It is likely the extension will be until the end of 2014, giving producers another three years until 100 per cent organic diets are mandatory.

Cutting food wastage would contribute to feeding the growing human population, according to the UK Government's chief scientist.

In the next 25 to 50 years, food production will have to double to keep up with growing populations and rising consumption. However, if global wastage of food is cut, then production will not have to grow at such a rate to meet demand, the UK government's chief scientific advisor, Professor Sir Bob Watson, told the Oxford Farming Conference last week.

Sir Bob told the conference that recent reports, such as the Foresight Report and the study by Sir John Beddington's Commission on Sustainable Agriculture, showed that the current food production system is unsustainable.

He said there is huge wastage in present food production and there are growing concerns over the excessive use of nitrogen and fertilisers to produce food.

And finally, in the UK, a further step has been achieved towards improved control of Streptococcus suis. Moredun Scientific has recently completed the validation of a S. suis serotype 2 disease model in weaner piglets for use in vaccine and therapeutic efficacy studies.

David Reddick, Head of Animal Health at Moredun Scientific, commented: "We are pleased to extend our disease model portfolio to offer a highly effective model of S. suis infection to our animal health clients supporting their efforts to prevent and control the disease."