Delegates pass policies on raw milk, drugs, agricultural animals

The AVMA has new or revised policies on raw milk, use of prescription drugs, reporting of adverse events, genetic modification of animals in agriculture, and approval and availability of antimicrobials for food-producing animals.

The AVMA House of Delegates approved the policies during its regular annual session, held July 28-29 in Philadelphia in conjunction with AVMA Convention 2022. The AVMA Board of Directors had referred the policies as resolutions to the House with recommendations for approval.

The AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee reviewed the AVMA policy on “Raw Milk” and proposed revisions for clarity and accuracy, and the HOD made a few tweaks to be further explicit.

Raw milk being poured into a large container

The revisions emphasize that nonhuman mammals are the source of milk addressed by the policy and that pathogenic organisms may be difficult to detect. One revision added, “These pathogens can be shed directly from the animals or introduced via environmental contamination during the milking and packaging process.”

Another revision changed the statement that “only pasteurized milk and milk products should be sold” to now state, “The AVMA recommends that fluid nonhuman mammalian milk sold or distributed to consumers be pasteurized and all dairy products be produced under a scientifically validated food safety program.”

The Food Safety Advisory Committee considered the risk associated with consumption of fluid milk specifically and concluded that fluid milk intended for direct consumption should always be pasteurized. However, other dairy products may be able to be produced under a scientifically validated food safety program alternative to pasteurization.

The HOD reference committee that discussed the policy requested that educational materials regarding raw milk be prepared for the public.

The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents proposed the new policy “Use of Prescription Drugs in Veterinary Medicine,” which supersedes the policies “Guidelines for Veterinary Prescription Drugs,” “Writing Veterinary Prescriptions,” and “Client Requests for Prescriptions.” COBTA proposed the new policy “Adverse Event Reporting,” which supersedes the current policy of the same name and the policy “Vaccinovigilance.”

The council had reviewed several of the existing policies as part of the AVMA’s requirement that policies be reviewed at least every five years. The new policies combine and update existing policies.

The Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee proposed the revisions to the policy “Genetic Modification of Animals in Agriculture.” The final wording includes the addition of the following: “The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is designated as the lead department for the health of all farm-raised animals under the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002. The AVMA believes the USDA should have primary responsibility in matters of genetic modification of farm-raised animals to facilitate innovation, foster commercialization, and manage health and welfare from a One Health standpoint.”

The Food and Drug Administration has been regulating genetic modifications to food animals as drugs.

The Committee on Antimicrobials proposed revisions that now update the policy “Approval and Availability of Antimicrobials for Use in Food-Producing Animals.”

A version of this article appears in the September 2022 print issue of JAVMA.