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Meeting the antibiotic challenges facing China and the world

Chris Brunner, November 21, 2015

NAU-WIFSS Annual Symposium in Nanjing

Concerns over the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria have led to heightened interest in issues related to antibiotic use in animal agriculture. Assuring a safe animal-based protein supply for domestic and international markets in China was a chief topic of discussion at the UC Davis Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS)-Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) Annual Symposium on One Health and Food Safety.

The symposium, held November 3-4, in Nanjing included discussions on use and misuse of antibiotics, methods used to prevent residues in human food, animal and plant pathogens involved in food safety, and preparing students for careers in clinical veterinary medicine.

California is taking a lead in the U.S. in management and prudent use of antibiotics and may serve as a model for regulating use of antibiotics in agriculture.  The University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine has long played a role in helping prevent unwanted drugs from entering the food supply. The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) serves the people of California by ensuring the safety of foods of animal origin.

Dr. Robert Poppenga, a professor of clinical diagnostic toxicology, at CAHFS, addressed test procedures that are used to identify different classes of antibiotics and other chemicals in milk. CAHFS plays a leading role in assuring that animal products intended for human consumption are safe to eat. Likewise, making sure that animal feeds are free of contamination is critical since any animal feed contamination has the potential to adulterate products intended for human consumption.

Efforts to limit chemical residues in human food have been in place for many years through such programs as the Residue Avoidance Program (RAP) founded by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, (FSIS).  The Food Animal Residue Avoidance and Depletion Program (FARAD) was developed by pharmacologists and toxicologists at four U.S. universities to support FSIS activities. UC Davis is the site of one of the FARAD centers.  Dr. John Angelos, a professor of veterinary medicine and infectious diseases with the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, (WIFSS), discussed essential components of the FARAD system and how it is used to assist in reducing antibiotic residues in human food.

Concerns related to promotion of antibiotic resistance have led to changes in federal and state law regarding access and use of antibiotics in food animals. Dr. Michael Payne, a dairy outreach coordinator with WIFSS, addressed challenges with antibiotic residues in milk and tissue and regulatory initiatives implemented to solve them. He also gave an overview of veterinary drug approval in the United States, substances banned for food animals, sampling and testing programs for adulterants and prevention of environmental contamination with livestock medications.

WIFSS is partnering with the International Veterinary Collaboration for China (IVCC), funded by Zoetis, to launch a program through NAU to educate veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers in China on the prudent use of antibiotics.

Tracy Hou a business manager for Zoetis dairy products in China, talked about building partnerships for food safety.  Dr. Jessica Light, a senior veterinarian with the Dairy Technical Services team at Zoetis, discussed ways to influence producers and veterinarians to accomplish great antimicrobial stewardship, superb cow care and production of wholesome dairy products.

The Dairy Dynamic Management (DDM) program, developed at UC Davis, and sponsored by the IVCC, is a practical way to train dairy managers and employees how to establish a successful, productive dairy. Dr. James Cullor, a professor in the Department of Population Health and Reproduction at the School of Veterinary Medicine, works extensively throughout China talking to dairymen about how to maintain animal, public, and ecosystem health, and food safety.

Veterinarians play an important role in animal, human and environmental health. Dr. W. David Wilson, an academic administrator and professor in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine, addressed the need for veterinary schools to define and train their students to possess a broad range of technical and non-technical competencies at the time of graduation.  Using UC Davis as a model, his presentation highlighted the tremendous value of the veterinary teaching hospital in preparing students for success in clinical practice.

Concerns about the use of antimicrobials in medicine and agriculture brought about by the FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive are changing the landscape of the commercial food industry, and coupled with new federal regulations, this is impacting how large-scale poultry production is conducted in North America. Dr. Maurice Pitesky a UC cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Population Health and Reproduction in the School of Veterinary Medicine, focused some of his remarks on the surveillance data from farm to market with respect to the isolation and characterization of antibiotic resistant bacteria isolated from poultry products.

Dr. Maeli Melotto from the Department of Plant Sciences, provided information on the interactions of a plant’s immune system to either permit or prevent certain human microbial pathogens to internalize into the plant to escape the effectiveness of chemical sterilization of plant surfaces destined for human and animal consumption. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica can survive on and penetrate into plant tissues causing serious foodborne disease outbreaks.

Plant scientists from NAU addressed food supply safety issues, including Professor Fangjie Zhao, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, who discussed his studies on the fate of antibiotic resistance factors in manure and composted manure products.

The School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis plays a key role in addressing issues important to animal, human, and environmental health.  WIFSS, through the One Health Center for Food Safety at NAU, is helping facilitate the growth of partnerships between university researchers, veterinarians, industry leaders and government agencies to address prudent use of antibiotics in animals, particularly dairy and poultry, as it relates to food safety.

UC Davis speaker abstracts