What is going to happen with food animal antibiotic usage in the next couple years and how do we prepare for a smooth transition? Many of you are aware of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) Guidance #209/#213; however what do they mean for the industry?
FDAs goal is to protect human health and curb development of antimicrobial resistance. The industry will retain access to our current feed grade/water grade antibiotics; but, these guidelines will change the way they are used. VFDs are issued only under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Therefore, producers will be required to have a valid veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) if they want to use feed medication. Many of you already have this relationship with your Four Star veterinarian as your current PQA plus certification requires it. Record keeping will be critical for this, as well as the common audits that will be talked about in the next section. A VFD will only be valid for 6 months, so knowing your renewal dates will be important. Veterinarians, feed suppliers, and producers must keep a copy of each VFD for 2 years.
Guidance #209 and #213 recommend that drug sponsors remove any growth promotional labeling from their products. Medications will only be used for treatment, control, and prevention of a pathogen. “The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food Producing Animals” will eliminate the feed and water use of medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes in food-producing animals and bring all remaining therapeutic uses under the oversight of a licensed veterinarian. Medically important antimicrobials are everything we use in food animals except for ionophores, bacitracin, bambermycins, and the pleuromutilins (tiamulin). In all, there will be 283 products added to the VFD list.
So the bottom line is that the use of antibiotics for any purpose in feed or water will require veterinarian authorization in the form of a VFD (for feed) or a veterinary prescription (for water). Work with your Four Star veterinarian on how to better prepare for this at your farm. Implementation will be January 1, 2017.