WHAT IS THE VETERINARY FEED DIRECTIVE (VFD)?
The Veterinary Feed Directive is a rule that regulates how medically important antibiotics—medications that are important for treating human disease—can be administered to animals in feed and drinking water. Among the provisions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will require veterinary oversight whenever such antibiotics are administered to any animal species via feed or water, even if the animals are not intended for food production. The VFD took effect on January 1st, 2017.
Please watch this video to familiarize yourself with the VFD.
HOW IS UDAF AND THE APIARY PROGRAM INVOLVED?
UDAF and the Apiary Program are not responsible for implementation or enforcement of the VFD rule. The VFD rule is a federal level rule that was written by the FDA and is now enforced by the FDA. UDAF and the Apiary Program are working to educate beekeepers on the requirements and to find veterinarians who are willing to work with beekeepers. This is being done to lessen the impact of VFD implementation on beekeepers in Utah.
WHY IS THE VFD BEING IMPLEMENTED?
The driving force for the initial VFD rule in 1996 and the recent revisions is improving drug availability for the benefit of animal health and welfare, and, in turn, food safety. The increasing threat of antibiotic resistance (antimicrobial resistance) to both human and animal health compelled the FDA to take action by removing production uses of medically important antibiotics and implementing greater veterinary oversight by transitioning over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotics to VFD or prescription status. Any antibiotic use can contribute to antibiotic resistance, so it is important to avoid unnecessary or inappropriate uses of antibiotics. The use of medically important antibiotics in livestock is one factor that can contribute to increasing resistance, and the 2017 VFD revisions (published in June 2015) aim to put responsibility for their use into the hands of veterinarians, who are trained to understand not only when these medications are needed, but also what is the appropriate drug, dose, duration, and administration method to resolve infection and protect animal health and our food supply. The expertise of the veterinarian is critical to ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics in animals.
HOW DOES THE VFD AFFECT BEEKEEPERS?
Beekeepers use antibiotics to treat European foulbrood (EFB) and American foulbrood (AFB). Beekeepers will need to comply with the VFD rule when they apply antibiotics to their hives. Meaning beekeepers will need to work with a licensed veterinarian to obtain and lawfully apply antibiotics to their hives. The Apiary Program has compiled a list of veterinarians that are interested in working with beekeepers.