A new report by the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman, “Antibiotic Stewardship on the Farm,” takes a detailed look at what the new protocols mean for consumers and farmers and how Iowa livestock farmers continue to improve practices on the farm.
“Although research has never established a direct link between the use of medically important antibiotics used in raising food animals and antibiotic resistance, farmers and veterinarians are listening to consumers and are cautious in how they use antibiotics to treat livestock,” noted Peter Davies, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
The report was released as restrictions on antibiotic use in meat production have begun to tighten, with new regulations from both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the support of the livestock industry. By Jan. 1, 2017, antibiotics important to human health will only be available under a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), similar to a prescription from a veterinarian, and veterinarians must fill out paperwork or an electronic form indicating which antibiotic is to be used, the duration of use and when the directive is to expire.
“The antibiotics we use in livestock typically are not the same that doctors prescribe to their human patients,” said Michelle Sprague, a veterinarian with the Audubon Manning Veterinary Clinic (AMVC) Management Services in Audubon. “If we were to use a human medically important antibiotic in livestock, there are certain criteria that we need to meet before we can legally prescribe those products to the animals.” To learn more about that process, view Dr. Sprague’s interview video on antibiotic use in livestock.
“Consumers have long been protected from antibiotic residues ending up in meat,” Davies said. “U.S. farmers must follow a strict withdrawal period [set by the FDA] before they can send an animal treated with antibiotics to market.”
The human health community has also been called on to take a closer look at its use, and overuse, of antibiotics, a factor leading to antibiotic resistance.
“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said 50 percent of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary,” said
Richard Raymond, former USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety. “A lot of common colds are being treated with antibiotics.”
To learn more, check out the Spokesman “Antibiotic Stewardship on the Farm” report at the Iowa Farm Bureau website. For information about how livestock are raised on Iowa farms, check out the Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition here.