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The FDA is worried about antibiotics in meat

Ground beef in a meat department of a supermarket.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ground beef in a meat department of a supermarket.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it planned to phase out the use of some antibiotics in animals used for food, to prevent bacteria from becoming resistant to drugs used to treat humans.

In guidance issued on Wednesday, the FDA asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise labels of medically important antibiotics to remove references to use in animal production.

"Because antimicrobial drug use in both humans and animals can contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary," the FDA said in a release.

(Read more: Antibiotic-resistant 'superbugs' creep into nation's food supply)

The FDA said its plan focuses on antimicrobial drugs that are important for treating human infection and which are approved for use in feed and water of food animals.

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The agency on Wednesday issued a "final guidance," directing animal health companies to voluntarily remove animal-production uses from the labels of their medicines. Moreover, the guidance will bring the drugs under oversight of veterinarians by changing the over-the-counter status of the products.

The FDA said it will require animal pharmaceutical companies to notify the agency within three months of their intent to adopt its strategy. The companies would then have three years to complete the transition process.

By Reuters