Limits on antibiotics’ use acceptable for ranchers

New federal limits halting use of “medically important” antibiotics as growth promotants in livestock production aren’t expected to hurt the industry.

“There won’t be as much restriction as we first thought,” Canadian Cattle Association president Dave Solverson said in the latest issue of Alberta Farmer, but added “there will be a little more consultation with veterinarians on the use of antibiotics.”

Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate said April 11 it’s been working with industry stakeholders “to promote the judicious use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animal production” but now, in collaboration with the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), has moved ahead on two regulation and oversight measures.

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Those include the removal of growth promotion and/or production claims from “medically important” antimicrobial drugs — and development of options to “strengthen the veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals.”

“Similar” measures are being implemented in the U.S. during what’s expected to be about a three-year transition phase, the VDD said April 11, adding it will “continue to collaborate and align to the extent possible, for an efficient transition for all involved parties over the same time period.”

“Successful implementation” of Health Canada’s new policy means medically important antibiotics “will only be used in food animals under the direction of a veterinarian when there is a specific disease challenge,” CAHI said in a separate release.

“We understand that consumers have concerns about medically important antibiotics being used to promote growth,” CAHI president Jean Szkotnicki said. “We hope this change will increase consumer confidence and lead to a more productive discussion about animal welfare, sustainability and public health.”

CLICK HERE to read Alexis Kienlen’s article from the April 28 edition of Alberta Farmer on Health Canada’s moves and livestock industry observers’ reactions.

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