UK pig nutritionist Paul Toplis was awarded the 2011 David Black Award, Britain’s premier annual pig industry honor, in London on November 2.

The judges for the award said Toplis, who launched Primary Diets with three fellow directors in 1996, “has participated in pioneering research work and is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on nutrition in the young pig. Working in a quiet and determined way across the whole spectrum of the industry, including farmers, feed suppliers and vets, he has made a significant contribution to the industry over many years.”

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Toplis cited three key elements as examples for a successful and sustainable pig industry – research, Salmonella and antimicrobial resistance. He said he believes all three should be tackled by the whole industry working better together. “For example, the industry already spends considerable sums to control Salmonella," said Toplis. "Every part of the chain is being asked to spend more to reduce Salmonella with no account of their relative effectiveness. This will increase some costs unnecessarily. The whole industry should get together, look at the whole chain, then target the spending where the greatest progress can be made rather than seeking expensive cuts across the board.”

Toplis said that the industry is facing a major challenge as far as anti-microbial resistance is concerned, and he called for a coordinated approach to the best use of medicines in the industry to tackle the threat. One of the few non-veterinarians to be a senior member of the UK Pig Veterinary Society, Toplis also urges governments to provide more funding to support the necessary research and development this would require. “The question of whether traces of antibiotics in feed contribute to antimicrobial resistance is a controversial one and there probably isn’t a simple answer, but we must be guided by the very best science available,” said Toplis.