Public concern about antibiotic resistance continues to grow worldwide. With concern by consumers that the use of antibiotics in food animals may be diminishing their effectiveness for use in treating human disease, focus has intensified on the use of antibiotics in the global food animal production industry. Read the article by Dr. Hofacre published in 2016.
effectiveness for use in treating human disease, focus has intensified on the use of antibiotics in the global food animal production industry. As a specialist in avian medicine, this issue has become an important focus in my own work, as well as that of my colleagues in the veterinary- and poultry industries. We promote responsible therapeutic use of antimicrobials in poultry.
RegulationIncreasing efforts are being made to reduce the use of antibiotics in the food animal production industry. The use of antibiotics in food animals is now regulated in nearly all countries worldwide, but varies regionally. In the EU, the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal production has been banned since 2006. In the US, regulation of the use of antibiotics in livestock will begin in January 2017. Change over the last few years has been principally driven by the demands of large food producers and food chains, such as McDonalds Corporation (whereas change in the EU has largely been led by regulatory authorities). Coordinated national surveillance of the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is also carried out through the US National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) – a program that Dr. Singer from the University of Minnesota and I work with in the US poultry industry to collect and analyze samples from broiler- and turkey farms in the US. In addition, best practices have been developed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for the responsible use of antibiotics that provide veterinarians guidelines for each animal species on farms.
Alongside these measures, the FDA issued two policy documents on the use of medically important antibiotics in food animal production in 2013: The FDA’s Guidance for Industry 209: The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals”1, and its Guidance for Industry on New Animal Drugs and New Animal Drug Combination Products Administered in or on Medicated Feed or Drinking Water of Food-Producing Animals: Recommendations for Drug Sponsors for Voluntarily Aligning Product Use Conditions with GFI 209; #2132. These guidelines marked an important step in encouraging reduced use of antibiotics within the national livestock industry, by clearly defining appropriate therapeutic uses of antibiotics in food animals and involving veterinarians in the decision to use antibiotics. They also will result in manufacturers removing labeling that says the antibiotics can be used for growth promotion. For many years, antibiotics could be obtained as ‘over-the-counter’ products in the US, but through the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)3 – a new national policy introduced in 2015 that supplements ‘Guidance 209’ and ‘Guidance 213’ – the use of antimicrobials from January 2017 will require veterinary supervision and a prescription for use.
ImpactsA major difference between regulation on the use of antibiotics in the animal production industry in Europe, compared with the US, relates to the class of antibiotics that are permitted for use. With reduction in the use of certain antibiotics, we must intensify our efforts to detect and
manage some specific diseases. A great deal of research into the effect of reduced antibiotic use is being carried out in the US and globally. We are still trying to understand the full impact of reducing antibiotic use in animal production. However, veterinarians, nutritionists, researchers and farmers are undoubtedly working more
closely together on integrated management, feeding and health regimes.
Many alternatives to antibiotics for the animal production industry are under consideration, such as the increased use of organic acids, like butyric acid, and probiotics in animal feed or drinking water. A greater range of vaccines are under investigation. Research is also focused on finding superior dietary and/or husbandry solutions, particularly since the incidence of some diseases, such as coccidosis and necrotic enteritis (NE) can be heavily influenced by the animals’ diet. One surprising, but potentially helpful management solution in poultry production, for example, is that we have noticed that NE incidence rises when poultry houses are more frequently cleaned out, this is because beneficial bacteria in the litter are competitively exclusive, and chicks develop better resilience to disease when they are exposed to these ‘good’ bacteria for longer. There are many avenues to explore.
Dr. Hofacre will be one of the experts, speaking about his experiences in transitioning companies to NAE (No Antibiotics Ever), at our free roundtable event at IPPE. Join our free roundtable at IPPE >>