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White House forum targets antibiotic resistance, promotes responsible use in farm animals

A recent White House forum on antibiotic stewardship brought together more than 150 key players from human and animal health constituencies in an effort to ensure responsible antibiotic use and combat resistant infections.

The same day as the June 2 forum, President Obama signed a memorandum directing federal departments and agencies to “create a preference” for meat and poultry produced with responsible antibiotic use, according to a White House statement.

Producer commitments

Three poultry producers — Foster Farms, Tyson Foods Inc. and Smithfield — were cited in the White House press release as making some of the most significant commitments to addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Foster Farms will only use antibiotics to treat chickens that have a documented microbial disease or for disease control as dictated by a veterinarian and will never use antibiotics that are critically important for human medicine. Tyson will eliminate the use of antibiotics used in humans from its US broiler flocks by September 2017. Smithfield has already prohibited the use of medically important antimicrobials for production purposes in its animals and is working with academia to investigate alternatives to antibiotics that will enhance animal well-being and production efficiency in swine.

Allied industry shows support

Three animal health companies — Elanco, Merck Animal Health and Zoetis Inc. — were cited by the White House as making some of the most significant commitments to ensure “swift and seamless” adoption of the FDA’s guidance about the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals.

Dozens of other industry organizations were cited by the White House for their commitment to this initiative, including the American Association of Avian Pathologists and the National Chicken Council.

The forum and memorandum built on a several other steps taken by the Administration to combat antibiotic resistance, including an executive order signed by President Obama in September 2014 setting priorities to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria.

These events coincided with FDA’s announcement of its final rule on the Veterinary Feed Directive, which requires veterinary oversight of in-feed antibiotics given to food animals if the drugs are medically important to humans.

Watch a video of the conference.


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