Antibiotic overuse is target for action

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

The British poultry sector has led the way in cutting the use of antibiotics
The British poultry sector has led the way in cutting the use of antibiotics

Related tags Food safety conference Bacteria

Experts from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have called on the food supply chain to reduce, replace and re-think the use of antimicrobials in animals to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is one of the world’s most pressing public health issues.

EFSA and EMA have reviewed the measures taken in the EU to reduce antimicrobial use in animals. While recognising there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the problem, they have stressed that to be successful, strategies need to follow an integrated, multifaceted approach, which take into account local livestock systems and involve all relevant stakeholders – from governments to farmers.

Last month, EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published their annual report on the levels of AMR in food, animals and humans across the EU.

EFSA, EMA and ECDC are also working on a report that assesses the link between consumption of antimicrobials and development of resistance in bacteria found in animals and humans. This is scheduled to be published at the end of July 2017.

Use of antimicrobials in humans

By the end of 2017, the three agencies will propose a list of indicators enabling risk managers to monitor the reduction of AMR and the use of antimicrobials in humans, food-producing animals and food.

“There is a need for innovative solutions – we need to find alternative ways to prevent and treat bacterial infections in animals,” ​said EFSA’s executive director Dr Bernhard Url.

Alternatives to antimicrobials that have been shown to improve animal health and, thereby, reducing the need to use antimicrobials, include vaccines, probiotics, prebiotics, bacteriophages and organic acids.

Meanwhile, the Red Tractor assurance scheme has bolstered controls on antibiotic use in the pig supply chain in a bid to tackle the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Food safety conference

This follows advances made by the British poultry sector. These will be described at Food Manufacture’s ​2017 food safety conference ‘Food safety 2020: preparing your business for change’, which takes place at Woodland Grange, Leamington Spa. Warwickshire on June 22.

At the conference, Reg Smith, agriculture director for Faccenda and chairman of the British Poultry Council’s Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme will describe what the poultry industry has been doing to reduce its use of antibiotics.

For more details visit the Food Safety Conference website.

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