WASHINGTON – A federal court judge ordered the US Food and Drug Administration to withdraw approval of two antibiotics used in animals, according to an Associated Press report. The FDA has 60 days to appeal the ruling.

The agency issued an order in 1977 that would have banned non-medical use of penicillin and tetracycline in farm animals unless drug makers could show they were safe. However, the rule was never enforced because of pushback from agriculture interests and members of Congress. In his ruling March 22, Judge Theodore Katz said the FDA must take action on its own rule.

FDA has already taken steps to limit the use of certain antibiotics in animals. The agency on Jan. 4 prohibited certain extra-label, or unapproved, uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys effective April 5.

FDA limited the use of cephalosporins as long veterinarians follow the dose, frequency, duration, and route of administration that is on the label. Veterinarians may also use or prescribe cephalosporins for extra-label uses in minor species used for food such as ducks or rabbits.