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Judicious antibiotic use key to animal and food health

Encouraging responsible of antibiotics rather than banning them entirely is vital to maintaining animal health and producing healthy food supplies, say agricultural and veterinary leaders.

Speaking on a panel at the Public Meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Washington, experts from a range of disciplines said being able to use antimicrobials to treat, manage and limit illness was important to farmers.

Without them, animal health and welfare would be compromised, while the industry’s ability to produce safe supplies of food could be at risk, reports WATTAgNet.

In a discussion on antimicrobial resistance in animal production, experts including Thomas Meyer of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Richard Carnevale of the Animal Health Institute said responsible use of antibiotics did not mean eliminating their use.

“Antimicrobials are an important part of a veterinarian’s tool kit,” Meyer said. “Antibiotics, when used properly, can save lives.”

Carnevale said that the veterinary community tries its best to prevent disease with vaccines, but antibiotics are still needed when disease prevention isn’t enough.

The animal health community still needs to develop new, novel vaccines, antimicrobials and alternatives to keep America’s production animals healthy, he added.

Carnevale said he was also concerned by the trend towards promoting antibiotic-free labeling on food as there was no evidence that it was safer than food produced from conventionally-reared animals.

“One of my concerns about labelling and marketing is getting ahead of the science. We can’t get ahead of the science,” he said.

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Posted on June 27, 2017

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