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Federally Mandated Databank at K- State Serves as Vital Tool for Food Animal Health

The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, or FARAD, hosted by Kansas State University, is continuing its work helping protect the nation’s food supply.

The databank received $360,000 as part of an annual, renewable grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in September 2016.

“FARAD is a federally mandated collaborative project that’s been going on for about 35 years,” said Ronette Gehring, associate professor of anatomy and physiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “The project started off as a collaboration of North Carolina State University, the University of Florida and University of California, Davis, with Kansas State University a new addition in 2012.”

The databank is a risk-management program that provides science-based expert advice to help mitigate unsafe chemical residues, such as from drugs, pesticides and biotoxins, that might be found in products derived from food animals.

“We are the only resource for drug withdrawal interval recommendations following extra-label drug use and accidental exposure to environmental contaminants,” Gehring said. “Pharmacokinetics is the scientific underpinning for our work, which describes how drugs move through the body using mathematical models. We can extrapolate and give scientifically based recommendations for veterinarians to help food producers.”

The databank was co-founded by Jim Riviere while he was at North Carolina State University. Riviere is now the MacDonald endowed chair in veterinary medicine, a Kansas Bioscience eminent scholar and a university distinguished professor at Kansas State University, where he directs of the Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine and continues as the national coordinator for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank.

“FARAD is a valuable tool to the practicing veterinarian by providing professional advice in real time,” Riviere said. “It could also be considered an excellent example of translational medicine applied to animal health. FARAD’s call volume has increased yearly by double digits, supporting its value to the veterinary profession. Having a FARAD site at the Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine at Kansas State University strengthens the computational basis upon which withdrawal time estimations are based.”

Databank personnel provide scientifically derived answers to residue questions from licensed veterinarians, extension specialist and regulators.

“FARAD is able to answer questions regarding drug regulatory laws, veterinary feed directives, requests for drug withdrawal interval recommendations for extra-label use, and mitigating accidental exposure for most major and minor food animal species,” Gehring said. “We also work with the database administrators and responders at the other centers to help each other address questions and issues that might come up.”

Gehring said members of the other Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank centers will visit Kansas State University this spring for a special continuing education meeting that will feature extensive pharmacokinetics training.

“We are constantly working on providing tools for our people at the other centers,” Gehring said. “We want to keep improving the accuracy and consistency of outward recommendations. We are currently making a WIC – withdrawal interval calculator – a program with a graphical user interface that can be used by respondents at our different centers. It allows them to enter information and to ensure there’s a formal approach to finding out what data are out there on which we can base our recommendations.”

Kansas State University’s Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank also serves in different educational capacities.

“What we do at FARAD feeds into how Kansas State University trains veterinary students,” Gehring said. “We can provide unique perspectives in courses focused on veterinary pharmacology. We are also involved with doctoral students in statistics and growing collaborations with that department. Those skills are very sought-after in the pharmaceutical industry, with the unique aspect of different species and residues.”

More information about FARAD is available at farad.org. Interested parties can call 1-888-US-FARAD to submit general questions or receive advice regarding residue avoidance.

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