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Weekly Overview: Roundtable Addresses Using Antibiotics More Responsibly

17 July 2014

GLOBAL - This week's news includes a report on a meeting discussing the responsible use of antibiotics, where the participants agreed on the principles of replacing, reducing and refining the use of these drugs for farm animals. They also stressed the importance of communicating to consumers what the animal protein sector is doing to address the issue. It has emerged that a media report last week blaming infertility in a particular line of male broiler breeders for rising chicken prices in the US was an over-simplification of the market situation.

A framework for replacement, reduction and refinement needs to be established for the responsible use of antimicrobials along the supply chain. Furthermore, the measures that should be implemented by vets, farmers, producers, retailers and the pharmaceutical industry need to be communicated to consumers.

These are the main findings of a recent top-level roundtable, Antimicrobials – Who Needs Them?, chaired by the Food Animal Initiative (FAI) together with the pharmaceutical company, Ceva.

The roundtable agreed a path establishing new and standardised measures for antibiotic use that can be implemented at producer level and that can also make changes in the way antibiotics are used at both national and regional level.

Turning to the markets, consumers in the United States are facing record chicken prices. While a recent report suggested this was due to poor fertility in one company's male broiler line, that seems to be an over-simplification. The root cause can be traced back to 2011, when feed prices were at their peak and the US economy was in the doldrums, leading the country's chicken companies to cut back on production. It is taking time for the producers to ratchet up production to meet the growing demand at home and from export markets.

Turning to bird flu news, within the last week, China has reported one new case of H7N9 in a man in Yongzhou who had been in contact with live poultry, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 452. New research indicates that a boy who contracted avian flu in China last year might have been infected with an H7N9 precursor.

In poultry, a total of 41 samples tested positive for the H7 type of flu virus in China during the first three weeks of June; the majority were from live bird markets. Following extensive testing in the US, the earlier low pathogenic H5N8 flu event is now considered closed.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

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