The Chicken Farmers of Canada national supply-management agency is banning the injection of hatching eggs with ceftiofur antibiotics.
“It is going to be in medical textbooks for as long as there are textbooks around,” John Prescott, a professor with the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, is quoted in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
The ban takes effect May 15. The national agency and its provincial member marketing boards will use their powers to penalize any of the approximately 2,700 members who buy chicks from hatcheries that inject eggs with ceftiofur.
The antibiotic is deemed essential for human medicine and recent studies have confirmed that using it to inject hatching eggs increases the incidence of bacteria able to survive exposure to ceftiofur – i.e. they are antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Ceftiofur is not government approved to be used as an injection into hatching eggs, but hatcheries were able to find veterinarians willing to prescribe it as an “off-label use”.
It has taken the chicken agency more than a decade to react to a Public Health Agency of Canada findings of a high rate of ceftiofur resistance in Quebec in 2013 and in Ontario in 2014.
The veterinary profession and federal and provincial agriculture departments have done nothing to stop the widespread abuse of the off-label loophole, either in the case of ceftiofur or many other medications.