Animal Health Community Redefines Antibiotic Use on Farm

Jamie JohansenAg Group, Animal Health, Antibiotics, Livestock, Research, Veterinary

The FDA has announced the full implementation of new policies redefining how antibiotics are used to treat food-producing animals. As of January 1, antibiotics similar to those used in human medicine that are medically important will no longer be used to promote growth in animals. Antibiotics in farm animals will only be for the purpose of fighting disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

The Animal Health Institute (AHI) represents companies with an interest in veterinary health and said antibiotics are one of the key disease-fighting tools used by farmers to keep animals healthy. U.S. livestock producers utilize antibiotics in a responsible manner to manage diseases in their animals and to preserve their effectiveness. Because of the research-defined relationship between healthy animals and safe food products, it is important that farmers have a range of effective tools available to keep food animals healthy.

“The cooperative approach used by FDA to bring about this significant change has worked,” said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews. “The fully implemented changes announced represent an enormous effort by the animal health industry, veterinarians and farmers to align with the FDA policy and enhance the responsible use of antibiotics.”

With these changes, veterinarians will be more involved in the decision to use antibiotics on the farm. All uses of medically important antibiotics in feed and water now require the approval and supervision of a licensed veterinarian. A veterinarian must sign a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to allow the use of these antibiotics in feed and a prescription if used in water. While a veterinarian must approve the use of the antibiotic, the other directions on the label regarding dose and duration must be followed. Any other feed uses of antibiotics not listed on the label is illegal.

“The animal health community has been working collaboratively with FDA to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics in animals that produce food. We are fully aligned with the guidance because upholding our commitment is the right thing to do,” said Mathews. For more information, please visit