Labeling of Food Animal Antibiotics
Judicious use of antibiotics to fight disease in animals
The FDA has developed guidelines that ensure antibiotics important to human medicine should only be used in animals to fight diseases. These guidelines are designed to ensure animal health and safety as well as protect the food supply.
Historically, some FDA-approved antibiotics had been used to promote growth and weight gain in certain farm and flock animals. The FDA has issued two Guidances, or instruction documents (Guidances 209 and 213), that direct companies, veterinarians, and farmers to discontinue use of antibiotics for these purposes by January 2017.
When FDA Guidances 209/213 were issued in 2013, FDA gave the animal health and livestock communities three years to make changes necessary to comply with the new policy. On January 3, 2017 FDA announced it has completed full implementation of the new policy. All of the 283 approved animal drug applications affected by the new Guidances and all labels associated with those approvals have been changed to align with the FDA policy. As a result, it is now illegal to use medically important antibiotics to promote growth in food animals. All therapeutic uses of these drugs in water now require a prescription from a licensed veterinarian and all therapeutic uses in feed require a veterinarian order called a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The veterinary, feed and animal health industries are working together to ensure smooth implementation of veterinary oversight of all medically important antibiotics. A common VFD form has been created and new users are learning how to fill them out.