Pew Report Considers Alternatives to Antibiotics in Food Producing Animals
For years, FDA, USDA, and various industry stakeholders have sought to tackle public health concerns associated with the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth or feed efficiency in food-producing animals. In the U.S., FDA is working with industry to gradually phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for production purposes. Recently, states have also jumped into the fray, with California, for example, adopting strict limits in 2015 on the use of antibiotics in healthy livestock, effectively barring their routine use to prevent illness or promote growth.
Earlier this week, Pew Charitable Trusts released a new report that examines alternatives to antibiotics in animal agriculture. In short, the report indicates that vaccines, probiotics, immune modulators and other innovative approaches to protect animals could minimize the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. The report focuses on nine possible alternatives that could help protect cattle, swine, chicken and turkey, including probiotics, in-feed enzymes, antimicrobial peptides, phytochemicals, heavy metals and hydrolases like bacteriophages and notes that some commercial food animal producers are already successfully using available alternatives for growth promotion and disease prevention, including probiotics and vaccines.
As industry and regulatory bodies around the world continue to tackle public health concerns associated with the use of medically important antibiotics, the use of antibiotic alternatives in food-producing animals is likely to pick up steam. But practical challenges associated with bringing these products to market – including concerns about limited market size and a potential lack of incentives to use alternatives – could hinder commercial development of other alternative approaches.