The new guidance document issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production could have a significant impact on smaller Washington producers. First proposed in June 2010, the FDA guidance calls for antibiotics that are “medically important” to humans to be used in animals only when necessary to assure their health. The FDA has emphasized that it will work with animal health companies over the next three years to assist them to “voluntarily” discontinue the sale of antibiotics that are labeled only for nutritional efficiency to livestock and poultry producers. Additionally, all antibiotics that are in classes used in human medicine, which is primarily what pork producers use, will need to be used under a veterinary feed directive. National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom talks about how the veterinary feed directive works.
WAGSTROM: Works kind of like a prescription. The veterinarian needs to fill out an order that the producer would then take to the feed mill to be able to buy medicated feed.
So is the FDA Guidance For Industry #209 just a law in disguise?
WAGSTROM: FDA says it’s voluntary but I think the way to describe it is that voluntary is relative when you’re working with a regulatory agency. They made it very clear that at the end of this three year period, when they evaluate what progress has been made with companies voluntarily giving up their labels, that if they aren’t satisfied with the movement away from growth promotional labels they will take more action.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.