The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a recent Federal Register notice presented a noticeable shift in its stance on antimicrobials fed to livestock and poultry.

Instead of threatening to restrict antibiotics fed as growth promotants and to control and treat diseases in food-producing animals, the agency took two significant actions that harken a major change in policy toward the use of antimicrobials. First, FDA rescinded notices of proposed withdrawals of penicillins and tetracyclines; some of the petitions for withdrawal dated back to the 1970s. Secondly, FDA indicated it would pursue a voluntary approach to restrictions on antimicrobials, working with the agricultural and veterinary communities.

Tom Burkgren, DVM, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, says the policy move “is certainly a continuation in the right direction for FDA. We are pleased that FDA publicly chose this stance.”

The AASV leader says in fact that agency officials have been urging companies and the pork industry to institute voluntary reforms for years rather than take regulatory action.

“We in the pork industry have been in communication with FDA for years on these issues and look forward to continuing our collaboration. We certainly agree with a common-sense and scientific approach that does not put pig health and welfare at risk,” Burkgren says.

“We are against broad bans that are merely politically expedient but ignore the science and the facts about antimicrobial resistance development,” he concludes.