Animal health unaffected by US antibiotic use regulation changes

The Chief Veterinarian with the National Pork Producer's Council says fears over the potential negative impact on animal welfare resulting from changes to US regulations pertaining to antibiotic use in livestock appear to have been unwarranted
calendar icon 2 July 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

Effective 1 January, 2017 labels approving the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion were discontinued in the US for food animals and the remaining therapeutic uses for disease treatment, control and prevention came under veterinary oversight.

Dr Liz Wagstrom, the Chief Veterinarian with the National Pork Producer's Council, says even before the changes took effect we saw significant declines in the volumes of antibiotics being used.

Antibiotics used in the promotion of growth were discontinued in January 2017 which sparked concerns for animal health. In 2018, it appears these concerns were unfounded according to Dr Wagstrom

Dr Wagstrom explained that this decline in antibiotic use appears not to have had the expected negative effect:

“One of the things we had been very concerned about was would there be animal health impacts, anything negative either from things like growth promotion uses actually preventing some disease or just not access to veterinarians be able to get needed antibiotics and, so far, we're not hearing anything.

“I think one of the things FDA did that was very wise was that they grouped disease treatment, control and prevention as being essential for animal health so a veterinarian can write an order based on a specific known disease risk for a drug to focus on that or to prevent that.

“Obviously having veterinarians in the loop to have to write VFDs also helped those veterinarians be in the loop to say, 'do we need to adjust anything else in our herd health programme, whether it's pig flow or hygiene or vaccines or whatever?'.

“I think overall, this has been a pretty positive experience.

“It's added some costs to the system but having that increased veterinary oversight I think has the opportunity to provide rewards as well”.

Dr Wagstrom says producers and veterinarians worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration as the rules were written and an effort was made to determine what would work for practising veterinarians and the feed mills, so everyone was very well prepared.

As reported by Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape.Ca

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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