Significant changes on the horizon for the animal health industry are reflected in three new documents now available, according to Sharon Benz, director of the Division of Animal Feeds within the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Benz, who spoke Oct. 22 at the Animal Health Industry Insights seminar hosted by the Kansas State University's Master of Agribusiness program, said the new documents will govern the use of antibiotics and will affect those working in the animal health and companion animal industry. They are (1) Guidance 209 Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food Producing Animals; (2) Guidance 213 Implementation Principles for Guidance 209; and (3) the Veterinary Feed Directive Proposed Regulations.

The seminar was held at the K-State Olathe campus.

“With the changing environment surrounding animal health, it is vital that we are knowledgeable and engaged with the agencies that provide guidance and oversight to our industry. Dr. Benz provided the opportunity for Master of Agribusiness students to become familiar with the influence that the FDA has on our business decisions,” said Justin Smith, MAB student and deputy animal health commissioner for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Benz gave an overview of the CVM and its responsibilities, which she said works to ensure animal drugs are safe and effective before giving approval; monitors the safety and effectiveness of current animal drugs on the market; reviews animal and pet food for safety and labeling; ensures pet food additives are safe and have utility before approval; conducts research; and helps make more animal drugs legally available for minor species, such as fish and hamsters.

“Dr. Benz was very knowledgeable with an extensive background. Since canine nutrition is my passion, it was an extremely interesting presentation for me. I learned about FDA policies and procedures I did not know about and Dr. Benz was nice enough to answer questions afterward, said Melissa Vogt, MAB student and distance learning veterinary technology Instructor at Colby Community College.

“Dr. Benz brought a wealth of knowledge to the forum by providing insight regarding the changes that the animal health industry will be experiencing when the implementation of the judicious use of antibiotics guidance 209 and guidance 213 begin,” said David Yandell, MAB student and senior associate for regulatory, surveillance and compliance with Elanco Animal Health. “Dr. Benz highlighted the need for the judicious use of antibiotics in the industry and that the FDA-CVM, an agency dedicated to the health and safety of humans and animals, is helping to ensure they are available for use in the future.”

Benz is responsible for providing direction and oversight to the division, which monitors and sets standards for contaminants, approves food additives and oversees medicated feed and pet food programs. Prior to her appointment to director in 2004, she served as the team leader for the Nutrition and Labeling Team. In preparation for her work with the FDA, she was employed by the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture as the program officer for the Nutrient Requirement series bulletins on animal nutrient requirements.

Benz earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and a Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech. Her training is in ruminant nutrition and mineral metabolism and requirements.

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food, animal health and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food, animal health and agribusiness industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries.