The move is designed to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotic use for people by avoiding the risk that their frequent application helps foster antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotics are used in poultry production to treat and prevent infectious diseases and safeguard poultry health and welfare.
For the past two years, 2 Sisters has not used third and fourth generation cephalosporins or fluroquinolones, which the WHO has prioritised as critically important to human medicine.
Its announcement on April 30 also excludes the antibiotic class macrolides from all of its broiler production.
At the same time, the business said it would establish two trial farms, fully supervised by company veterinary surgeons and independent agricultural experts.
It added that the farms would spearhead practical research to help develop and roll out on-farm techniques, and health and management practices that would reduce the industry’s future need for antibiotics.
“As a responsible and forward thinking organisation, we are keen to lead on this increasingly important issue and take a stand which we feel is pragmatic and sensible,” said 2 Sisters ceo Ranjit Boparan.
“We are committed to ensure that we use all medicines, including antibiotics, in a responsible manner across the farms that supply us, and lead the industry in delivering a strategy which protects both animal and human interests, now and in the future.”
In devising the policy, the business has reviewed expert opinion from the WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health and The European Medicines Authority and worked with the Food Animal Initiative (FAI).
‘Replacing antibiotic use’
Michelle Waterman, 2 Sisters’ group agriculture director, added: “Our plan is also about replacing antibiotic use with other interventions wherever possible. This includes use of vaccinations and changes to husbandry and biosecurity techniques. Our strategy is continually refined through the use of trial locations to see what works best.”
Ruth Layton, director of FAI, said: “The programme of work we are undertaking with 2 Sisters Food Group approaches the human health challenge of emerging antimicrobial resistance with the thoughtful, urgent and practical actions it requires.
“These steps show how our ‘replace, reduce, refine’ framework, adopted to great effect in other sectors, can guide company behaviour that will safeguard human and animal health, while protecting the efficacy of lifesaving antibiotics.”
Food safety conference
At Food Manufacture Group’s food safety conference on October 15, 2014, speaker Professor Sarah O’Brien from the University of Liverpool warned against the food industry’s overuse of antimicrobials. She attributed the rising threat of the CD 078 strain of Clostridium Difficile to its growing resistance to antimicrobials as a result of overuse of antimicrobials.
Food Manufacture’s next food safety conference, Safer food and drink – from the harvest to home, takes place at The Lowry hotel in Manchester on September 29. Professor Colin Dennis, president elect of the US Institute of Food Technologists, former director general of Campden BRI and past president of the UK Institute of Food Science & Technology is chairing the event.
Speakers from organisations such as the Food Standards Agency, FERA Science, the Society of Food Hygiene & Technology and the British Retail Consortium will take part.
More information is available here or email: Xngvr.Gurbsnabhf@jeoz.pbz.