Last week, more than 150 food companies, retailers, and human and animal health leaders met in Washington, D.C. for “The White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship.” The overarching goal of the Forum is to “slow the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections.”

You can read more about this Forum and the outcomes here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/03/health/white-house-meeting-pledges-reduce-antibiotic-use.html?_r=0

The timing of this Forum, and the announcement by more than 150 companies and organizations, including the American Medical Association, McDonald’s, Panera Bread and National Pork Board, stating a commitment to curbing antibiotic resistance, is a good opportunity for farmers and ranchers to share the measures they are taking on their own farms and ranches to ensure responsible use of antibiotics.

USFRA is committed to answering questions about how food is grown and raised. This includes addressing questions about antibiotic use on farms and ranches and concerns about antibiotic resistance in humans.

We, too, are concerned about if or how the use of antibiotics on farms and ranches may impact human health. Farmers, ranchers and veterinarians know it’s their responsibility – along with medical doctors in human medicine – to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and minimize the potential for the creation of resistant bacteria.

When animals are sick, or at risk of becoming sick, they should be treated with antibiotics responsibly, following standards based on the latest science and research of veterinary medicine, in ways that don’t stress the animal or harm the environment and are in the best interest of long-term human health.

Here’s more information related to antibiotic use and efforts farmers and ranchers are making to curb antibiotics resistance:  

  • What steps are farmers, ranchers and the agriculture industry at-large taking to minimize development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria? Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health threat. Animal health companies, farmers, ranchers and veterinarians – along with medical doctors in human medicine – have a responsibility to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, produce safe food and minimize the potential for resistant bacteria. The industry is taking proactive steps now to ensure that antibiotics are being used responsibly to minimize the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
    Specifically:
    • Antibiotics important to human medicine used for growth purposes in food animals will be eliminated by December 2016 in accordance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidances 209 and 213. Farmers, ranchers and veterinarians are legally and ethically obligated to follow the FDA's requirements for the use of antibiotics on the farm.
    • The oversight of a veterinarian for all uses of medically important antibiotics is part of FDA Guidance 209, as well as part of farmers’ routine practices through quality assurance programs. (Source: Hurd SH, Doores S, Hayes D, Mathew Am Maurer J, Silley P, Randall SS and Jones RN (2004). Public Health Consequences of Macrolide Use in Food Animals: A Deterministic Risk Assessment. Journal of Food Protection, 67(5): 980–992.)
  • Why are antibiotics used on the farm?  Animal antibiotics are used on farms and ranches to treat sick animals. Farmers and ranchers often work with veterinarians to build animal health care plans, which include many tools such as vaccination, proper housing, hygiene and antibiotics.  It’s also important to remember that antibiotics are only one tool in proper animal health care. Part of a disease-prevention program is the targeted use of antibiotics at a time when a specific disease is likely to occur. Farmers and ranchers closely watch their animals every day and have learned when these moments in time are most likely to, and in fact often occur.
    Some examples of when antibiotics are used:
    • To treat sick animals. Animals on farms, just like humans, sometimes get sick. Animal antibiotics shorten the time an animal is sick. Without antibiotic treatment, animals would be sick and uncomfortable for a longer period of time before getting better, spread the illness or, in some cases, they would suffer needlessly and possibly die.
    • To prevent and control disease. Preventing or controlling the spread of a disease is critical to keeping animals safe and healthy – and to prevent suffering or unsafe conditions. They can’t stay home and isolate themselves like people can when they are ill. It is more humane and safer to prevent illness than to treat a sick animal that later may infect other animals.

Learn more on antibiotic use on farms at: http://www.fooddialogues.com/foodsource/antibiotics