Over 150 Animal and Health Stakeholders Join White House Effort to Combat Antibiotic Resistance [Edited]

As part of the continued effort to combat antibiotic resistance, the Obama Administration convened a “White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship” on June 2 to bring together key human and animal health constituencies involved in antibiotic stewardship—the development, promotion, and implementation of activities to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics. As part of the event, more than 150 food companies, retailers, and human and animal health stakeholders will highlight commitments to implement changes over the next five years to slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections. [Source: White House Press Office]

In addition, the President will sign a memorandum directing Federal departments and agencies to create a preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use. The Presidential Food Service is also committing to serving meats and poultry that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics. Separately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has finalized changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation, an important piece of FDA’s overall strategy to promote the judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals as it facilitates bringing the feed-use of such antibiotics under the oversight of licensed veterinarians.

The Forum builds on a number of steps the Administration has taken to combat antibiotic resistance. In September 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13676 prioritizing Federal efforts to combat the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Administration also issued the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report with recommendations to address the crisis of the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. In March 2015, the Administration released the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, a comprehensive plan that identifies critical actions for key Federal departments and agencies to enhance diagnosis and treatment and limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and about 23,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

Creating a Preference for Meat and Poultry Produced According to Responsible Antibiotic-Use Policies Presidential Memorandum:

The Presidential Memorandum (PM) directs Federal departments and agencies to create a preference for meat and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use in the meat supply chain by supporting the emerging market for meat produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies. To achieve this goal, the PM directs a three-tiered, phased approach using Federal purchasing authorities to offer options for meats from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies within Federal agencies’ facilities. Specifically, the three phases include:

  1. Initiating a process within 120 days of issuance of the proposed memorandum to make available meats and poultry from animals raised according to responsible antibiotic-use policies in certain Federal cafeterias. The General Services Administration (GSA), which operates a significant number of Federal cafeterias, will lead this approach, although other departments and agencies may join;
  2. Broadening the availability of meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies for sale in all Federal cafeterias serving civilian Federal employees by 2018 for poultry and 2020 for other meats, not solely those operated by GSA; and
  3. Developing an acquisition strategy for applying a preference by 2020 in Federal acquisitions for meats and poultry produced according to responsible antibiotic-use policies sold or served in all Federal facilities.

[Editor’s note: Please click here to read the Administration’s entire fact sheet including a list of participants in the White House Forum. AASV was represented at the meeting by Dr. Tom Burkgren and submitted a letter of commitment prior to the meeting.]