The European Commission has presented proposals to prohibit the use of antibiotics as growth-promoting feed additives.

The four remaining authorised antibiotics currently used as growth-promoters in feed would have to be phased out as of January 2006. "This fulfils my commitment to the European Parliament in September 1999", health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne stressed.

 The proposal represents a major streamlining of the existing rules on the safety evaluation and marketing authorisation of feed additives. All new authorisations of feed additives would be granted for a ten-year period only. Companies marketing feed additives authorised under existing legislation would have to, within the next seven years, apply for re-evaluation and re-authorisation of their products.

The new rules would require that companies demonstrate the positive effect for the animal (efficacy) and the absence of a risk for human health, animal health and the environment (safety).

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) would be in charge of evaluating all feed additives. It would set up clear guidelines and a transparent assessment process including public consultation of interested parties. Procedures for authorising feed additives as they evolved since 1970 have become time-consuming, cumbersome and confusing for companies and regulators alike. Their simplification and streamlining was therefore one of the actions prioritised by David Byrne in the White Paper on Food Safety, said the Commission today [Monday].

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