Veterinary medicines for livestock not only improve the health and welfare of the animal while contributing to the quality of the animal products themselves but they also protect consumers from harmful food-borne pathogens or zoonotic agents.
Sick or suffering animals not only cost more to feed and to treat their disease or clinical condition, but the meat, milk or eggs they produce often cannot be sold. In more extreme cases, it may not even be safe to eat food from animals that are diseased, as there could be a risk that disease could be passed to people.
The production of all veterinary medicines is strictly regulated by the EU institutions and national governments and animal health companies must stick to these regulations. Veterinary medicines are licenced, which means they must prove to be of high quality and be safe and efficacious against diseases in animals. (See further details under Bringing veterinary medicines to market)
Multiple safety factors are also in place to ensure that products of animal origin such as meat, milk and eggs are safe for consumers. This means that there are no traces of medicines in animals that would pose any risk to consumers. To make sure that residues of veterinary medicines in our food do not exceed maximum residue limits (MRLs), governments do regular monitoring.
IFAH-Europe works alongside the EU institutions, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and national authorities on various food safety topics such as withdrawal periods, MRLs and monitoring the use of veterinary medicines.
IFAH-Europe is committed to working with veterinarians, farmers and other stakeholders to promote the responsible use of veterinary medicines. As such, it is a founding member of the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals (EPRUMA)
Farmers and veterinarians play a crucial role in keeping records every time a food-producing animal is treated with a medicine. Furthermore, these animals or their produce (meat, milk or eggs) may not enter the food chain until a specific time period following medication has passed, to ensure that any remaining residues in their produce are below the MRL. This period of time is known as the withdrawal period. Safety margins are built into the system to ensure that consumers are protected.
For more information on veterinary medicines and food safety standards in Europe visit:
European Commission DG SANCO: Directorate General Health and Consumers