10 April 2017

HEALTH - Cattle Veterinarians Asked to Provide Illegal VFD's

With the implementation of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) at the beginning of the year, it’s not surprising there have been a few challenges as farmers, feed mills and veterinarians adapt to the new regulations.

The AVMA and American Associ­ation of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) published a joint statement March 6 on the AVMA@Work blog warning that both organizations had received reports veterinarians had been pressured to issue veterinary feed directives for chlortetracycline-containing feeds in unapproved formulations or for unapproved indications.

The VFD was implemented to eliminate the use of antibiotics in feed for production purposes, ie: growth promotion and feed efficiency, and have them used judiciously and only when appropriate for specific animal health purposes.

The goal is to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Canadian officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control caution the “growing use of antibiotics in farm animals' food supply is worsening the problem of antimicrobial resistance – the phenomenon of bacteria becoming immune to antibiotics,” a Huffington Post article stated.

Both the AVMA and AABP are encouraging their members to educate themselves about the VFD and work with clients, producers and feed mills to ensure that everyone is following the Veterinary Feed Directive rules.

A common question in issuing VFDs for medicated mineral feed is determining whether the feed is a “free choice” or a “hand fed” feed.

“Hand fed” is designated when there is a concern for adverse drug reactions; the animals are fed daily in order for them to be observed daily.  

Feed – including mineral feed – can only be labeled as free choice when both the drug label and the feed formulation have been approved for this indication by the FDA.

Before the VFD was implemented, some feed mills and customers were using their own mineral formulation mix, adding chlortetracycline, and then feeding it as a free choice mineral feed.

Since the formulation was not approved by the FDA, the intake level and dose would be unknown; therefore this would be an illegal use.

The joint statement goes on to say:
“To date, no regulatory enforcement has occurred as a result of this activity; however, veterinarians who are asked to write VFDs for these mineral mixes that are clearly being used as free choice feeds are placed in a difficult position because this is not allowed under the VFD rules. Writing such VFDs is illegal, and veterinarians should not provide them.”

The organizations encourage veterinarians to talk with their producers and feed mills about the legal and illegal uses of medicated feeds so that everyone is familiar and stays in compliance with the VFD regulations.

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