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Most read articles
|0108 PD: Avoid consumer concerns about safe dairy beef|
|Archives - Past Articles|
|Friday, 21 December 2007 08:09|
Billboards posted around the country by a national restaurant chain boldly proclaim: “Get antibiotics from your doctor, not your beef.” The words are emotional, and the rhetoric is not likely to go away any time soon.
Attention continues to mount on antibiotic use in food-producing animals, and executives in board rooms are listening closely. Negative headlines, editorials and Internet chatrooms feed the frenzy. While consumers may be confused by mixed messages, they demand and deserve safe food.
As a result, an increasing number of respected restaurants and retailers have zeroed in on the public’s concern and have developed their own antibiotic guidelines. Wendy’s, for example, has developed antibiotic use policies. Under “Managed Use,” Wendy’s policy states that “antibiotics used to treat food animals must only be administered by licensed veterinarians that have met all training and certification requirements.”
It’s time for all producers of food animals to take the issue of responsible antibiotic use seriously. Every producer who sends a cow to slaughter should ask themselves a simple question, “Would I serve the beef from that animal on my family’s dinner table?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to stop the truck.
Antibiotic residues: A concern
The USDA is responsible for monitoring residues in meat while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will enforce corrective measures when necessary. Two recent cases illustrate some of the consequences that can occur:
1. In August, a Complaint and Consent Decree of Permanent Injunction was filed in U.S. District Court against an Iowa dairyman for illegal drug residue violations in nine cull dairy cows sold between 1992 and 2006. The drug residues found by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service included antibiotics such as tetracycline, sulfadimethoxine, flunixin, oxytetracycline and penicillin.
2. A South Dakota cattle dealer faced sentencing Nov. 8, 2007 on charges of selling cattle with drug levels exceeding FDA tolerance limits. Although the dealer never administered any drugs to cattle himself, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Reinhard contended that it was his responsibility to collect appropriate records of the cattle he bought at auctions and from other sellers in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. “There should be a log of each individual animal and the medication they’ve received”, said Reinhard.
The drug violations included sulfas and tilmicosin – antibiotics commonly found on dairies. The case involved four cattle sold between April 22, 2002, and April 2004. The dealer faces up to six months in prison, a fine of $100,000 and one year of probation.
What can you do to keep beef safe?
Guidelines for responsible antibiotic use
• Recognize that antibiotics should be used with caution.
Appropriate and timely management practices include:
Identify sick animals
• Identify problems early and accurately.
Use lab tests to help confirm an infection and determine which drug would be most effective.
Use antibiotics correctly
Read the label
• Treatment dosage (i.e., How much drug per weight of the animal?)
• Route of administration: intravenous (IV), intramuscular (IM), intramammary, subcutaneous (SQ), and (or) oral
• Length of treatment (i.e., How many doses or length of time for treatment?)
• Withdrawal time (i.e., meat and milk hold-outs)
• Develop written treatment protocols (instructions) with your veterinarian. Protocols can act as a way to help you determine whether a cow needs a treatment, and which antibiotic to use.
• Treat the fewest number of animals possible.
• Withhold treated animals or animal products for the recommended length of time.
• If you are unsure of whether a cow has cleared the drug, use a test for meat or milk residues.
• Giving an antibiotic in a different way than is described on the label is an extra-label drug use (see this article’s section on “Understanding Drug Labels.”)
Remember, you cannot manage what you do not measure. A good record system includes the following information:
• Identification of all animals treated individually or by group
Have a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR)
1. A veterinarian agrees to be responsible for making decisions about diagnosing and treating animals on the farm, and the client (owner or caretaker of the animal) agrees to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
2. The veterinarian is familiar enough with the farm to be able to make a diagnosis of medical conditions of the animals on that farm.
3. The practicing veterinarian is available for follow-up in case of a drug reaction or in case the therapy does not work.
In summary, a veterinarian must be familiar with the farm and the animal health practices on that farm. Routine visits and discussions with your veterinarian are key elements in maintaining this relationship. A veterinarian is responsible for deciding to give an extra-label drug and must be able to provide directions for that drug’s use.
Establish written protocols
Understanding drug labels
Drugs for which adequate instructions for use by a layperson cannot be written are designated prescription (Rx) drugs and must be dispensed by or on the written order of a licensed veterinarian within a valid VCPR.
Extra-label use is defined as any use which is not on the FDA-approved label. Extra-label use of OTC drugs is prohibited except by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian with a valid VCPR. Prescription (Rx) use, whether label or extra-label, also requires a valid VCPR.
Only the uses listed on the label are legal. Any other use requires veterinary involvement.
Because approved withdrawal times are based on label directions, any other use may result in a longer withdrawal time, and a residue violation, if not properly extended. PD