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GAO urges more oversight of antibiotic use in food animals

By Meatingplace Editors

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is calling for the federal government to establish more specific guidelines and increase data collection on the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals.

In a new report, the GAO said it found gaps in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) oversight and USDA's and the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) data collection.

The agencies lack farm-specific data, do not have metrics to assess their actions to manage antibiotics use, and have not conducted on-farm investigations during foodborne illness outbreaks, the GAO said.

The GAO recommended USDA and HHS:

  • develop a process to establish appropriate durations of use for medically important antibiotics.
  • establish steps to increase veterinary oversight of the antibiotics administered in routes other than feed and water, such as injections and tablets.
  • develop performance measures and target for actions to manage use of antibiotics, such as revising the veterinary feed directive and developing guidance documents on judicious use.
  • develop performance targets for collecting farm-specific data on antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food animals.
  • develop a framework for deciding when on-farm investigations are warranted during outbreaks.

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