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Broilers & Layers / Europe / Industry News & Trends
on May 6, 2016

UK poultry meat sector cuts antibiotic use by 44 percent

New report highlights a dramatic reduction in the use of antibiotics by the poultry meat sector in the United Kingdom

The British Poultry Council (BPC) says its Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme has been notably successful in delivering a strategy for the responsible use of antibiotics in the poultry meat sector.

Over the period 2012-15, total antibiotics used in the same period by scheme members decreased by 44 percent. Over the same period, output increased by 5 percent so that poultry meat now accounts for 44 percent of total UK meat production. BPC members account for 90 percent of the production across the chicken, turkey and duck meat sectors.

Publishing the results this week in a report titled “Leading the Way in the Responsible Use of Antibiotics,” BPC says its Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme was formed in 2011 and aimed to take decisive action to manage antibiotic usage across the sector. In 2012, it introduced a voluntary ban on the use of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins, and a commitment to reduce the use of fluoroquinolones. In 2016, the scheme made a further commitment not to use colistin.

Among the achievements recorded in the report are reductions in the use of fluoroquinolone (by 48 percent 2014 and 2015), macrolides (by 50 percent year-on-year between 2013 and 2015), amoxicillin (by 46 percent between 2013 and 2015) and tetracycline (by 47 percent between 2012 and 2015).

The poultry sector is the first UK livestock industry to pioneer a data collection mechanism to record antibiotic usage, and is to share the information with the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

A reception was held in Parliament this week to coincide with the launch of the BPC report. Farming Minister George Eustice praised the steps the poultry industry has taken to understand and reduce its use of antibiotics, and its commitment to open and transparent reporting.

“Antibiotic use is an incredibly important subject for both animal and human health,” said John Reed, BPC Chairman. “The British poultry sector has taken a lead in understanding its own use and impact, and we hope that others will follow suit.

“Since 2011, we have worked with the VMD to collect accurate poultry-specific data, and we are delighted that we have reduced our use of antibiotics by 44 percent. Our priority remains the health of our birds, and the responsible therapeutic use of antibiotics is crucial.”

Professor Peter Boriello, chief executive of the VMD, commended the sector for leading the way and engaging with stakeholders.

“Responsible use is not simply a reduction in usage,” said Daniel Parker, BPC veterinary adviser. “We use antibiotics to protect bird health and we will continue to work with government to explore alternatives. Until effective alternatives become available, antibiotics will continue to be important in treating bacterial conditions in both human and animal medicine.”

Antibiotic stewardship program launched for pig sector

This week, the U.K.’s National Pig Association announced that it is launching an antibiotic stewardship program, aimed to “achieve minimum usage of antibiotics in the pig sector consistent with responsible human and food animal use.”

The program will comprise six strands, the first of which is to capture and collate antibiotic use data on pig farms.

“We recognize and share society’s concerns about the level of antibiotic use in animal and livestock medicine,” said NPA Chief Executive Zoe Davies. “In particular, we acknowledge the risk, albeit small, of antibiotic resistance developing in bacteria in pigs, and this resistance spreading to humans.”

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