Following a significant drop in sales of antibiotics used in food producing animals, new targets for further reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use across eight different livestock sectors have been announced at the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Conference, held in association with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on 27 October in London.
The British Poultry Council has welcomed the new sector-specific targets agreed by the RUMA Target Taskforce, which the BPC Antibiotic Stewardship is a part of. The new targets will enable British poultry meat farmers and veterinarians to build on the excellent progress made on sustainable use of antibiotics.
BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “We are honoured to be described as the pathfinders for the rest of the farming industry and are committed to continue setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow. We produce nearly half of the meat eaten in the UK and use around 10% of the total antibiotics licensed for food producing animals. We have successfully reduced our antibiotic use by 71% in the last four years and have stopped all preventative treatments as as well as the use of colistin. The highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a last resort as we recognise the importance of these antibiotic classes in human medicine.
“We will carry on using antibiotics sustainably, continue reviewing our on-farm management practices and ensuring that antibiotic therapies are used with good animal husbandry techniques ‘only when necessary’ and under the direction of a veterinarian, to protect the health and welfare of birds under our care.
“We aim to maintain the current level of antibiotics used in chickens and further reduce the level used in turkey production. We have set a realistic and sustainable target of 25mg/pcu for chickens and 50mg/pcu for turkeys.
“Through our Antibiotic Stewardship, the British poultry meat sector will carry on leading the way in sustainable use of antibiotics; to protect the health and welfare of our birds; safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics and produce food our consumers trust.”
The British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President (SVP) Gudrun Ravetz welcomed the report. “It is extremely encouraging to see reductions in antibiotic use, including Critically Important Antibiotics, across all livestock industries for which data was made available this year.
“It is vital that we continue to build upon these achievements through evidence-based, sector-specific targets to further refine, reduce or replace antibiotic use in the livestock sector. Continued collaboration between the health sectors, underpinned by a commitment from each of us within the veterinary profession to maintain the highest standards of stewardship in using antibiotics, most especially Critically Important Antibiotics, is the only way we can preserve these essential medicines for future generations.”