British poultry makes big strides in antibiotic use

The British Poultry Council (BPC) has published its 2017 Antibiotic Stewardship Report. Based on ensuring sustainable use of antibiotics, the UK poultry meat sector is seeking to protect the health and welfare of birds, to safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics, and to produce food consumers trust.

2016 was a year of enormous progress for the British poultry meat industry, with several big achievements:

· Stopped the prophylactic use of antibiotics

· Stopped the use of Colistin

· Agreed new antibiotic standards for Red Tractor Poultry Assurance (coming into force in October 2017)

Over the period of 2012 to 2016 the UK poultry meat sector reduced its use of antibiotics by weight by a massive 71% (23.72 tonnes in 2016). Across the same period poultry meat production has increased by 11% (1.79 million tonnes in 2016).

BPC Chairman, John Reed, said: “We are delighted with the progress we’ve made, but there is more work to be done. Our Antibiotic Stewardship continuously reviews on-farm management practices to ensure sustainable use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain.”

Antibiotic use, and antimicrobial resistance, in humans and animals is one of the biggest health challenges we face on a global scale. The UK poultry meat industry has taken up this challenge and is the only livestock sector currently collating and publishing data. But data alone is not enough. We are committed to Clinical Governance and knowing how and why we use antibiotics. Livestock, like people, get ill, and will need antibiotics to preserve their health.

Reed concluded: “Our farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to treat sick birds – zero use is not an option – and we will protect the health and welfare of our birds. We will safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics as part of sustainable food production, and we will continue to feed the nation.”

The next challenge for the sector is examining the link between antibiotic use and resistance in the poultry production chain; to help us contribute meaningfully to the global debate. We are committed to reporting our progress on an annual basis.

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