Cephalosporins will be used in livestock only for very specific exceptions, after years of debate about the role of antibiotic resistance in farming and how it leads to new strains of microbes with the potential to shift into humans.
The FDA took this step to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans, the agency announced in a press release.
In 2008, the FDA issued and then revoked an order that prohibited cephalosporins in food-producing animals with no exceptions. Three years later, the agency's ban includes several exceptions:
--It doesn't limit cephapirin, which the FDA doesn't think contributes to antimicrobial resistance;
--Veterinarians will still be able to use or prescribe cephalosporins for limited use in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys as long as they follow the label's dosing instructions; and
--Veterinarians may also use or prescribe "extra-label" doses less common species of food-producing animals such as ducks or rabbits.
Antibiotic use in livestock and its impact on creating resistant strains in humans has been a hot topic for years. U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., also a microbiologist, has authored legislation aimed at preserving antibiotics' effectiveness for treating human disease.
"We don't have time for the FDA to ploddingly take half-measures," she said in a statement reported by the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy. "We are staring at a massive public health threat in the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. We need to start acting with the swiftness and decisiveness this problem deserves."
Physicians have also called for such legislation.
Despite use of antibiotics in herds, drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus were found in nearly half of meat and poultry samples, and were likely from the animal themselves, it was reported earlier this year.