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Antibiotics in Food Animals: FAQ

Antibiotics in Food Animals: FAQ

What is the FDA doing about its concerns over antibiotic use in food animals? continued...

The guidance stresses two main principles:

  • Antibiotics important to humans should be used in food animals only when necessary for the animals' health.
  • Use of these antibiotics in food animals should require the oversight of a veterinarian.

But the document makes it clear that the FDA expects industry to follow this guidance voluntarily. How has it worked so far?

The FDA tells WebMD that it hasn't worked yet because the guidance isn't yet final.

"There is no estimated time frame, but moving forward with strategies for implementing the recommendations outlined in the draft guidance is a priority for the agency," the FDA wrote in an email to WebMD in January 2012. "FDA intends to finalize the draft guidance (Guidance #209) in the near future as well as issue additional, more detailed guidance on implementing the recommendations."

Avinash Kar, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the environmental groups that had petitioned the FDA, is dubious.

"The FDA have followed the strategy of voluntary action by industry for the last three-and-a-half decades. We don't see it working better now," Kar tells WebMD.

The American Meat Institute, which represents the food-animal industry, declined WebMD's request for comment.

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