Nutriad supporting US customers on veterinary feed directive
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking numerous steps and actions to ensure that antibiotics are being used judiciously in food animal production, Nutriad says.
The usage of antibiotics in food animal production is being scrutinised by government officials, public health groups and consumers throughout supply chains and by utilising market pressure. Concerns have arisen regarding antibiotic usage, level of usage, antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance and food safety.
According to Nutriad, the FDA is establishing antibiotic dosage levels which provide application guidelines, while maximising drug effectiveness, addressing toxicity issues and proper usage duration to tackle microbial resistance to medically (human) important antibiotics.
New regulations, effective January 1, 2017, will regulate the availability of medically important antibiotics. Antimicrobial drugs classified as medically important to humans will no longer be legal to use for growth promotion (feed efficiency and rate of gain improvement) in food animals. It has been common practice to use antibiotics at "sub therapeutic levels" for several decades as growth promoters. Growth promotion (AGP) claims will cease for medically important antibiotics. The EU has had a total ban on AGPs since 2006. The new rule does not address 'over the counter' (OTC) injectable antibiotics.
Additionally, usage of medically important antibiotics in food animals requires veterinary oversight or consultation and establishment of the veterinary feed directive (VFD). The FDA established the VFD to address the usage of medically important antibiotics in food animals. It limits the usage of medically important antibiotics in food animals, restricting the application and requiring veterinary oversight and consultation.
Starting January 1, 2017, a VFD will be required for all medically important antibiotics delivered in animal feed (including milk replacers) and a veterinary prescription for medically important antibiotics used in drinking water will be needed. Many of these antibiotics used in feed and water that have been available 'over the counter' will now require a VFD or prescription. 'Extra label' use of a VDF in a way other than as stated in the VFD is strictly prohibited.
A VFD is a written document provided by a licensed veterinarian that permits a livestock producer to obtain and feed a specified drug or drug combination in their livestock feed. The producer then presents the completed VFD to his feed supplier to obtain the VFD feed. A VFD key component is a valid veterinarian client patient relationship (VCPR). The veterinarian must have a valid VCPR with the producer in order to legally provide a VFD.
There are a number of specifications, details and stipulations regarding a valid VCPR between the veterinarian, producer and his animals which must be met. Besides typical commercial food animal production operations, small and part time producers, "backyard animals", 4 -H and FFA animals and certain pets a VFD for medicated feed will be required. These owners will need to establish and have a VCPR.
Many questions remain on the VFD with regards to its implementation and correct application. As the VFD process begins, communication and cooperation between the veterinarian, producer and feed mill/distributor will be important. Authorised, process and procedural details and record keeping will need to be discussed and addressed.
Various challenges and concerns being expressed by those involved include cost, necessary infrastructure, evaluation and decision making for approving VFD, addition record keeping and time required, veterinarian and antibiotic availability for timely treatment.
A future initiative by the FDA may involve time limits on the usage of therapeutic antibiotics in feed and water. It has been stated that 32% of the therapeutic antibiotics have no defined usage duration listed.
In addition to the removal of growth promotion indication and the movement of antibiotic usage in feed and water to a VFD or prescription, additional items are being examined or implemented such as efforts to remove antibiotic usage for prevention and control purposes, reduce the use of targeted drug classes in food animals, report antibiotic usage and antimicrobial resistance monitoring and reporting.
The usage of antibiotics in livestock production is under severe scrutiny. Growing requests from consumers for antibiotic-free products has led to a demand for antibiotic alternative products.