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White House shines light on antibiotic stewardshipWhite House shines light on antibiotic stewardship

Animal and health stakeholders join White House effort to combat antibiotic resistance.

Jacqui Fatka

June 2, 2015

5 Min Read
White House shines light on antibiotic stewardship

The White House hosted a forum on antibiotic stewardship Tuesday, bringing together key human and animal health constituencies involved in antibiotic stewardship—the development, promotion, and implementation of activities to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics.

As part of the event, more than 150 food companies, retailers, and human and animal health stakeholders highlighted commitments to implement changes over the next five years to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections.

Dr. Catherine Woteki , U.S. Department of Agriculture chief scientist, shared that the approach USDA is taking is a one health approach which draws on the fact that animals and people share the same environment and a multidisciplinary approach on research and programs can preserve the useful life of antibiotic use in both animal health and human health.

Much focus has been on “responsible use” of antibiotics. Woteki shared that the Food and Drug Administration has released a guidance developed regarding the judicious use of antibiotics. This includes removing the growth promotion uses of antibiotics in animal agriculture and when antibiotics are used it is in a “targeted way at certain stages of an animal’s development when it’s particularly  vulnerable to disease,” Woteki said.  

Ahead of the event Woteki shared that food producers and retailers would be making announcements regarding actions including undertaking voluntary phasing out of the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion. Other actions including educational programs that are being undertaking with veterinarians, and for example, with feed mill operators, for the swift and seamless adoption of the Food and Drug Administration guidance on medicated feed.

Animal pharmaceutical companies

Elanco as an example has committed to an eight-step antibiotic stewardship plan that ensures the responsible use of antibiotics, reduces shared-class antibiotic use, and replaces antibiotics with alternatives. These actions include the ceasing of marketing of growth promotion uses for shared-class antibiotics and complete full regulatory change to end growth promotion use of shared-class antibiotics globally by the end of 2016.

Elanco also has set out to develop new animal-only antibiotics which can optimize animal welfare without compromising human use antibiotics. It plans to dedicate two-thirds of its food animal research budget to attack disease challenges. Elanco said it will quickly evaluate 25 new technology platforms to deliver 10 viable development candidates within the next year.

Merck Animal Health also plans to develop a commercial surveillance program to monitor multi-drug resistant bacteria, across live animal, beef and dairy production. The outcome of this investment is expected to be a program that can be implemented by veterinarians to understand the pathogens present, throughout the animal’s lifecycle, and to make protocol recommendations that are based on actual pathogen populations, and their relative susceptibility. By implementing this potential surveillance program, veterinarians will be able to provide targeted, responsible treatments with antibiotics and other therapeutics when needed.

Zoetis committed to place the administration of medically important antibiotics under the direct purview of a veterinarian for the purpose of fighting disease – thereby eliminating their use for growth promotion.  Along with this commitment, Zoetis will work directly with veterinarians and livestock producers to implement these important changes to how our products are utilized in food producing animals.

Food service commitments

On the food service side,  McDonald’s said it will establish principles and criteria for antimicrobial use; develop field projects to serve as Centers of Innovation (that is, demonstration farms) for each species in an effort to demonstrate the benefits of judicious antimicrobial use; and develop methods to verify judicious antimicrobial use and establish goals for measuring progress.

Tyson Foods, Inc. said it will eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by September, 2017.  Tyson Foods will also work with independent farmers and others who are a part of Tyson’s beef, pork, and turkey supply chains on ways to reduce antibiotics on cattle, hog, and turkey farms.

Walmart is asking suppliers to adopt and implement the Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobial Use from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) including accurate record-keeping, veterinary oversight, and limiting antimicrobial treatment to animals that are ill or at risk.

The North American Meat Institute and its Foundation also participated in the forum, and NAMI president and chief executive officer Barry Carpenter said he hopes the forum “foster a stronger understanding of antibiotic resistance and help lead to meaningful steps to best ensure both human and animal health.”

NAMI said it supports ongoing and future research for therapeutic options and further understanding how antimicrobial resistance is developed and transmitted among humans, animals, and other living organisms. Since 2012, the Meat Institute has supported the development of an antibiotic stewardship program for food animal production systems. NAMI is committed to working with producer groups, allied stakeholders, pharmaceutical companies, and animal health professionals to achieve these objectives.

Presidential preference

President Barack Obama also signed a Presidential Memorandum (PM) that directs Federal departments and agencies to create a preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use in the meat supply chain by supporting the emerging market for meat produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies.  To achieve this goal, the PM directs a three-tiered, phased approach using Federal purchasing authorities to offer options for meats from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies within Federal agencies’ facilities.   Specifically, the three phases include:

1.      Initiating a process within 120 days of issuance of the proposed memorandum to make available meats and poultry from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies in certain Federal cafeterias.  The General Services Administration (GSA), which operates a significant number of Federal cafeterias, will lead this approach, although other departments and agencies may join;

2.      Broadening the availability of meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies for sale in all Federal cafeterias serving civilian Federal employees by 2018 for poultry and 2020 for other meats, not solely those operated by GSA; and

3.      Developing an acquisition strategy for applying a preference by 2020 in Federal acquisitions for meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies sold or served in all Federal facilities.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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