The use of antimicrobials in food-producing and companion animals has been under intense regulatory scrutiny in recent years, with many changes in regulations occurring in response. With a recent splurge of actions by regulatory agencies, it seems this topic is hitting the next wave of changes that will be crucial for the future availability of antimicrobials as an animal health tool.
Last week, several American Feed Industry Association staff participated in the virtual Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) meeting. The CAC meets annually to adopt the work of the individual Codex committee meetings that are held the previous year. Due to COVID-19, this year's CAC met online with a limited agenda over the course of five days, bringing together over 600 participants from all over the globe, in various time zones and translation in six languages, to discuss international standard setting.
The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) has released its 2021-25 strategic plan to address food as a potential source of human exposure to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) organisms. The plan includes four goals and 16 objectives on topics including sampling, technology, research and communication related to the impact of resistance and the effectiveness of prevention practices for foodborne pathogens. Of particular interest to the animal feed industry is objective 1.3, which would initiate an AMR testing program for animal feed and pet food, including their ingredients, and require that data be shared in an integrated database and in NARMS reports.
Combatting the threat of antimicrobial resistance is everyone's responsibility in animal agriculture ? from the farmers and ranchers who raise animals to the feed manufacturers that feed them to the veterinarians who care for them. Like most things in modern medicine, however, the treatments that work for some may not work for others, and what bacteria sickens one, may not sicken others. Now, a new report from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) drills down into this phenomenon as it relates to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in various animal species.
Under the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation, a "VFD drug" is a drug intended to be delivered via animal feed or drinking water and must be used only under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian. All distributors of feed containing a VFD must notify the Food and Drug Administration before they distribute for the first time. A distributor must also notify the FDA of a change in ownership, business name or business address within 30 days.
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing a new strategic plan to include enhanced monitoring of pathogens in animal feed and pet food as part of a multi-step approach to combat antimicrobial resistance, in accord with the principles of the One Health Initiative.
Farmers and ranchers in the U.S. have made significant changes in animal management over the past four years, resulting in a 38% decrease in sales of medically important antimicrobials for use in food producing animals. The Food and Drug Administration recently released data collected in 2018 that indicates a 9% increase over 2017 sales of medically important antimicrobials. Some of the sales totals includes drugs used in non-food producing animals such as dogs and horses.
Residues, when present in feed, could be transferred to meat, milk and eggs, and might pose a risk to public health and lead to possible trade disruption. Globally, animal feed manufacturers follow current good manufacturing practices to reduce the risk of residues, however some instances of residues are unintended and unavoidable. A recent report addressed the unintended and unavoidable presence of residues of approved veterinary drugs in food of animal origin (milk, milk and eggs) resulting from carryover of veterinary drugs in feed.
Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration released a draft guidance for industry outlining the process for changing the approved marketing status from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription (Rx) for antimicrobials that are medically important for humans and used in animals.
The American Feed Industry Association has been working with the Codex Alimentarius (Codex) for over 20 years to ensure its guidelines are science-based, it supports AFIA members' interests and most of all, that it protects public health. At Codex's recent July annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, AFIA successfully worked with U.S. government representatives and the International Feed Industry Federation to counter efforts by some countries to modify Codex's policies, which would have stripped the Codex decision-making process of its science-based structure.
The European Union is "unjustifiably" restricting the use of antimicrobials in food animal production exported into the bloc and is taking regulatory measures to bring its new "reciprocity" law into effect. It is essential that such policies, which are "part of a disturbing trend," be defended against in all forums, including in international trade negotiations and within standard-setting international bodies.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration requested comments from stakeholders on its revised draft guidance on the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulations. This week, the American Feed Industry Association responded by praising the agency for its work to clarify questions from the animal food industry as well as discuss a few outstanding concerns the industry maintains with the administration of VFDs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently released data from a study that will be used to help animal health officials better understand how antimicrobial drugs are used on livestock farms.
The ad hoc Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TFAMR) held its sixth session Dec. 10-14 in Busan, Republic of Korea. Leah Wilkinson, AFIA's vice president of public policy and education, participated as a member of the U.S. government delegation as the U.S. animal food industry representative.
In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration implemented a plan to place all production animal drugs important in human medicine under the control of a veterinarian via the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Last week, the FDA highlighted additional changes to the use of animal drugs in a new report setting a five-year goal for antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings.