News last update:6 Aug 2012

US veterinarians in favour of antibiotics

The president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has sent a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reiterating the risk of limiting antibiotic use in food producing animals without careful consideration of the consequences for human and animal health.

The letter was sent following remarks by Secretary Vilsack that some interpreted as a sign that the USDA was moving to limit the use of antibiotics in food animals. The department later clarified that no change in policy had been made.
In the letter to Secretary Vilsack, AVMA President Dr. René Carlson expressed the association's appreciation that there had been no policy change and reiterated the important role antibiotics play in helping veterinarians protect animal and public health.
"The AVMA strongly supports the judicious use of antibiotics in food producing animals," Dr. Carlson said. "This includes the administration of antibiotics for treatment, control, and prevention of animal diseases to promote food safety as well as assure the health and well-being of food producing animals."
Secretary Vilsack's comments, made while discussing the Obama administration's food safety efforts, were interpreted by some critics of the use of antibiotics in food animals as a signal that the USDA was preparing for a shift in their position.
USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe quickly clarified that the secretary's comments did not reflect a change in policy for the department.
"To restrict certain uses of antibiotics without careful consideration of the risks and benefits to both humans and animals removes a very valuable tool in the veterinarian's medical bag for preventing and minimizing animal disease and suffering while also ensuring a safe and wholesome food supply," Dr. Carlson said.

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