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Independent.ie

Friday 20 April 2018

FDA target growth enhancement drugs

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has issued a new guidance document for the livestock industry aimed at phasing out the use of certain antibiotics for enhanced food production.

The move is aimed at curbing the growing incidence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and the threat to human health.

Illnesses caused by drug-resistant strains of bacteria are more likely to be potentially fatal when the medicines used to treat them are rendered less effective.

US farmers regularly add antibiotics to the feed or drinking water of cattle, pigs, poultry and other animals to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.

Announcing the voluntary plan, the FDA said the use of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contributed to the development of antimicrobial resistance, so it was important to use these drugs only when medically necessary.

"We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them," said William Flynn, deputy director for science policy at FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

"Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down."

Under the plan, the FDA hopes to work with animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency indications from the approved uses of their medically important antimicrobial drug products.

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If implemented, the plan would also change some drugs from being available over the counter to requiring a vet prescription.

REPORT URGES ACTION TO TACKLE FOOD FRAUD

Britain's food industry is at major risk from fraudsters and criminals, a new report on the horsemeat scandal has warned.

In a report commissioned by the British government, Professor Chris Elliott of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast said the scandal, uncovered in January, "clearly showed criminal activity in the global food chain".

He concluded a significant change in culture is needed to deal with the threat of fraudulent activity along complex supply chains.

Prof Elliott said: "My review to date has identified a worrying lack of knowledge regarding the extent to which we are dealing with criminals infiltrating the food industry.

"I believe criminal networks have begun to see the potential for huge profits and low risks in this area."

He recognised food crime as a global problem and noted that the cost of criminal activity was substantial.

"Limited intelligence has been collected and it is not possible to gauge whether we are dealing mainly with systematic criminality perpetrated by individuals and groups operating exclusively in the food chain, or whether organised criminal networks have moved into food crime," he added.

EXPORTS OF BEEF AND VEAL HIT NEW RECORD

Australian beef and veal exports are set to reach a new record of 1.1m tonnes in the financial year 2013-2014 as demand for Australian meat grows in emerging markets. The continent's beef and veal exports are forecast to rise by 7pc to 1.1m tonnes as exports grow to a forecast 70pc of total production.

Higher export volumes are forecast for the US, China and the Middle East. These are expected to more than offset lower expected exports to Australia's largest market, Japan. The value of sheep meat exports is set to rise by 14pc in 2013-14 to $1.78bn (€1.16bn) on the back of higher export volumes and prices, while live sheep exports are likely to remain at around 2m head.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) is forecasting the value of farm export earnings to reach $38bn (€25bn) in the the coming financial year, an increase of 8pc on the five-year average.

ABARES chief commodity analyst Jammie Penm said export earnings from livestock and livestock products are expected to increase by 12pc due to higher world prices and increased production, while the value of crop exports would be lower because global prices have fallen.

Irish Independent