Animal Health Community Collectively Redefines Antibiotic Use on the Farm

Medically Important Antibiotics No Longer Used for Growth Promotion

WASHINGTON – January 3, 2017 – Today, the FDA announced the full implementation of new policies redefining how antibiotics are used to treat food-producing animals. Beginning January 1, antibiotics similar to those used in human medicine that are medically important will no longer be used to promote growth in animals. All remaining uses of these antibiotics in farm animals will be for the purpose of fighting disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Antibiotics are one of the key disease-fighting tools used by farmers to keep animals healthy. U.S. livestock producers utilize antibiotics in a responsible manner to manage diseases in their animals and to preserve their effectiveness. Because of the research-defined relationship between healthy animals and safe food products, it is important that farmers have a range of effective tools available to keep food animals healthy.

“The cooperative approach used by FDA to bring about this significant change has worked,” said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews. “The fully implemented changes announced today represent an enormous effort by the animal health industry, veterinarians and farmers to align with the FDA policy and enhance the responsible use of antibiotics.”

With these changes, veterinarians will be more involved in the decision to use antibiotics on the farm. All uses of medically important antibiotics in feed and water now require the approval and supervision of a licensed veterinarian. A veterinarian must sign a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to allow the use of these antibiotics in feed and a prescription if used in water. While a veterinarian must approve the use of the antibiotic, the other directions on the label regarding dose and duration must be followed. Any other feed uses of antibiotics not listed on the label is illegal.

“The animal health community has been working collaboratively with FDA to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics in animals that produce food. We are fully aligned with the guidance because upholding our commitment is the right thing to do,” said Mathews. For more information, please visit


Animal Health Institute

The Animal Health Institute (AHI) represents companies with an interest in veterinary health. Our members develop and produce the medicines that help our pets live longer, healthier lives and contribute to safe food by keeping food animals healthy. Since our inception in 1941, AHI has helped create an environment that fosters robust research and development of innovative and needed veterinary medicines. AHI member companies further the discovery, development and approval of medicines that promote animal health in a research-driven industry.