On Jan. 4, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an order that will prohibit most extra label use of cephalosporin drugs in food animals.

Examine your cephalosporin useTake a look at all the antibiotics you are using on your dairy operation. Dale Moore, veterinarian at Washington State University, says veterinarians and producers need to examine their cephalosporin use to make sure they will be compliant by the April 5 deadline when the new rules will take effect. In addition, Moore recommends taking a look at all drugs used on  your operation to make sure they are also being used in a judicious and legal manner.

Are you using drugs that contain ceftiofur? Moore says drugs with cephapirin are not included because the only approved use in food animals is for intra-mammary treatment in cows and there is no use of this drug in people.

If you are using a cephalosporin drug in food animals, how are you using it? How does your use correspond to the label with regard to:

  • Dose – mg or ml per pound or kg
  • Route of administration
  • Frequency – how often you give it
  • Duration of treatment with the drug
  • Species or class or age of animal

“If you are using the drug in a manner that is not on the label, find out why, start using and training employees to use it according to label instructions,” Moore advises.

There are exceptions to the rule. These drugs can be used to treat an extra label disease condition on the order of the veterinarian but only using the labeled dose, route, frequency and duration. There are no allowable prevention uses of these drugs. “That means you cannot give every newborn calf a ‘dose’ to try to prevent scours, for example,” she says.

A comment period on the cephalosporin ban is open through March 6.

Read the FDA press release on the cephalosporin ban here