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The agricultural community has gone beyond the legal requirements for safe antibiotic use and has created guidelines to give producers an additional tool for making proper decisions about the use of antibiotics.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinary groups that are specific to different livestock species, producer groups and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have collaborated to produce guidelines for safe and responsible use of antimicrobials. These guidelines, which are designed to minimize the need for antibiotic use and maximize their effectiveness when needed, are used as the basis of production education programs. The National Pork Board, for instance, has instituted the Take Care– Use Antimicrobials Responsibly Program (www.npb.org). Similarly, the guidelines are used in the beef industry’s Beef Quality Assurance Program. These guidelines can be found at http://www.avma.org/reference/jtua/default.asp.

Another program to promote safe drug use is the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD). FARAD is a National Food Safety Project administration through USDA’s Cooperate State, Research, Education and Extension Service. It is a computer-based decision support system designed to provide producers, extension specialists and veterinarians with practical information on how to avoid environmental contaminant residues and antibiotic residues in food (www.farad.org).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsor the Get Smart: Know When Antimicrobials Work on the Farm program aimed at responsible use of animicrobials on farms. (http://www.cdc.gov/narms/get_smart.htm). This program is a companion of CDC’s Get Smart program designed to promote responsible use of antibiotics in human medicine. Get Smart on the Farm is aimed at reducing emergence of resistant food borne pathogens that can be transferred to people via food or environmental sources.

These programs represent voluntary public and private efforts designed to ensure that antibiotics are used effectively to control and treat animal disease, while at the same, time safeguard public health.

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