New website highlights the steps the agriculture community is taking to prepare for 2017 changes in the use of antibiotics | TheFencePost.com

New website highlights the steps the agriculture community is taking to prepare for 2017 changes in the use of antibiotics

A number of agriculture groups — including the Animal Health Institute, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Animal Agriculture Alliance — recently launched a new educational website, http://www.togetherABX.com, to provide information about how the Food and Drug Administration's new policy will change the way antibiotics are used to keep food animals healthy.

The new policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, will stop the use of antibiotics similar to those used in humans for animal growth purposes. The policy also requires the supervision of a veterinary medical doctor when antibiotics that are used to treat people are also used to fight disease in animals.

"This policy ensures that the antibiotics classes we need as humans are only administered to food animals when medically necessary to fight disease," said Alexander S. Mathews, president and CEO of the Animal Health Institute. "Most importantly, the policy protects animal health and well-being while providing consumers with the safest food possible."

Human and animal health experts agree that antibiotic resistance is a public health concern, which is why animal production practices include judicious use guidelines to ensure that antibiotics can be used to keep food animals healthy, while minimizing the chance of resistant bacteria impacting human health. Farmers, veterinarians and the companies that make medicines for animals have collaborated with the FDA to implement these types of guidelines.

"A licensed veterinarian on a farm is to animals what a physician is to humans," said Dr. Richard Carnevale, vice president of regulatory, scientific and international affairs at the Animal Health Institute. "Veterinarians provide a critical service by keeping farm animals healthy, thereby safeguarding human health. As a veterinarian, I hope the togetherABX effort will result in greater public understand of the role of veterinarians."

The new website also will contain information about how farmers and veterinary medical doctors manage the use of antibiotics on farms and ranches. ❖