WHO guidelines on antibiotic use in animals create debate

WHO guidelines on antibiotic use in animals create debate
Nov 09, 2017

Recommendations group together drugs that promote growth with those that prevent disease



By Kaitlynn Anderson

Staff Reporter



Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement asking the agri-food industry to stop the routine use of antibiotics that aid growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.

The organization also published guidelines which “present evidence-based recommendations and best practice statements on the use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals,” according to its website.

However, the chief scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not agree with the recommendations.

“The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science,” Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting chief scientist with the USDA, said in a government release. “The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals.”

Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy advises producers against using medically important antibiotics to promote growth in animals, Jacobs-Young said.

But the FDA allows producers to use antimicrobial drugs to treat, control and prevent disease under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian.

The WHO’s suggested guidelines would place unrealistic constraints on the professional judgement of these veterinarians, Jacobs-Young said.

Despite the disagreement, the USDA remains “committed to addressing antimicrobial resistance in people and animals,” Jacobs-Young said in the release.

“We will continue to work with the WHO, World Organization for Animal Health, and Food and Agriculture Organization to promote antibiotic stewardship to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.”

Farms.com has reached out to the USDA for further comment.


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