The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has antibiotics can be legally used in feed or water for food-producing animals. Under the new directive, farmers who give livestock and poultry medically important antimicrobials in their feed will have to purchase it under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
The FDA have brought in the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule in response to growing concerns over human and animal resistance to antibiotics. The more frequently we use antibiotics, the greater the likelihood bacteria may become resistant to the medicine. If no rules were put in place, it is possible that animals given feed containing antimicrobials could pass along resistant bacteria to humans who consume their meat. FDA data shows that more kilograms of antibiotics are sold in the United States for food-producing animals than for people.
So what do these rule changes mean for meat and poultry producers? Farmers can no longer use drugs for production purposes (i.e., growth promotion and feed efficiency), or to compensate for substandard management practices. They can only give their livestock antibiotics for therapeutic purposes to maintain the health of the animal.
From the 1 January 2017, a farmer will need to obtain a feed directive from a licensed veterinarian with whom the producer has a “valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship." The veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is the essential basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients, and their patients.
The essential point behind the VCPR is that the veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the need for medical treatment, and the client (owner or caretaker) has agreed to comply with the veterinarian’s instructions.
The feed-additive antibiotics that will require a veterinary feed directive are:
The veterinarian in question must examine and diagnose an animal’s condition, and determine whether the use of feed-additive medication is necessary. The VFD also requires the veterinarian, feed distributor and farmer to maintain records for two years regarding the purchase of feed-additive medication.
What does this mean for the consumer? They will no longer have to worry about the usage of antibiotics in livestock and how it may affect their antibiotic resistance. But this may come at a cost. Most veterinarians will charge for the the veterinary feed directive, and farmers may pass along the cost to the consumer.
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