A government plan to impose strict new rules on the use of antibiotics in farm animals has been proposed by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center For Veterinary Medicine.

The FDA group charges the action is needed to combat growing fears by consumers that animal medications are creating drug-resistant germs that wind up in the meat people eat.

The creation of resistant foodborne bacteria has led FDA to develop a plan to curb that problem.

In turn, the Animal Health Institute (AHI) says FDA's push to increase its regulatory power over the use of antibiotics in farm animals is unwarranted and will not benefit human health.

"The framework document being proposed is unworkable, unsupported by the scientific evidence and based on too many faulty assumptions," says Brendan Fox, president, Elanco Animal Health.

Basically the FDA plan proposes:

*Companies seeking new animal antibiotic approvals must prove that their products are not expected to cause significant antibiotic resistance;

* The government would test today's level of antibiotic resistance and then set limits on how much resistance could increase before animal antibiotics implicated would be restricted; and

* FDA would rank animal drugs, giving those closely linked to vital human antibiotics extra scrutiny. In some cases, animal pharmaceutical companies that make the products in question might be forced to conduct on-farm animal tests to assure FDA of antibiotic safety.

Animal Industry's Plan For its part, the animal health industry has formulated a workable and comprehensive approach to address the antibiotic resistance issue.

"We support a comprehensive program that will encourage the research and development of new antimicrobial drugs, allow the continued use of antibiotics already in use on the farm and - most important of all - protect human health," says Alexander Mathews, AHI president and CEO.