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November 9, 2017
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USDA Disagrees With WHO Antibiotics Guidelines

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USDA Disagrees With WHO Antibiotics Guidelines

USDA’s chief scientist came out with a strong statement against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations issued this week critical of current uses antibiotics in raising food animals.

“The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science. The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals," USDA Acting Chief Scientist Chavonda Jacobs-Young said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the WHO recommended that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.

“The WHO previously requested that the standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals be updated through a transparent, consensus, science-based process of CODEX. However, before the first meeting of the CODEX was held, the WHO released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on ‘low-quality evidence,’ and in some cases, ‘very low-quality evidence,'" said Jacobs-Young.

“Under current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, medically important antibiotics should not be used for growth promotion in animals. In the U.S., the FDA allows for the use of antimicrobial drugs in treating, controlling and preventing disease in food-producing animals under the professional oversight of licensed veterinarians. While the WHO guidelines acknowledge the role of veterinarians, they would also impose unnecessary and unrealistic constraints on their professional judgment," Jacobs-Young added.

She said USDA agrees, however, that more data is needed to assess progress on antimicrobial use and resistance, as well as continued development of alternative therapies for the treatment, control and prevention of disease in animals.

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