On December 11, 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) finally announced a plan to curb the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to treat and fatten up livestock on factory farms.

But the mostly voluntary, loophole-riddled “plan” falls far short of what scientists say is needed to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now pose a real and widespread danger to public health.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y. 25th District), the only microbiologist in Congress and author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), had this to say about the FDA’s long-awaited plan: “The FDA’s voluntary guidance is an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success.”

Part of the FDA’s so-called plan includes something called the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The FDA says the new VFD rule will help curb the routine use of antibiotics in livestock. But in fact, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the new rule may actually weaken veterinary oversight of antibiotic use on factory farms, unless changes are made to strengthen the rule.

The FDA is accepting comments on the VFD rule. It needs to hear from you that the VFD rule needs three changes before it’s approved. It needs to:

1. Maintain the federal valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship definition, which says the veterinarian has recently seen the animals to be treated or visited the farm where they are kept.

2. Continue to require that two years of data on antibiotic use in feed are retained, rather than just one. This practice is necessary to determine whether these new policies are actually reducing antibiotic use for livestock year over year.

3. Ensure that the expiration date of the VFD does not extend past the life of the targeted animals, six months after it is written, or the label directions—whichever is shortest. This provision will decrease the chances that antibiotics are reordered without a legitimate, identified need.

TAKE ACTION: Comment on the VFD Rule

TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA: We need a mandatory ban on sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for livestock—not weak, voluntary guidance

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