It's all about food safety - Stephen P. Collins Vice President, Worldwide Poultry Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation

Stephen P. Collins
Vice President, Worldwide Poultry Schering-Plough Animal Health

When looking over the articles for this issue of CocciForum, I was moved by Dr. Corrado Longoni's main reason for wanting to remove drugs from the poultry feeds used by his employer, Martini Alimentare, a major producer in Italy.

"I have two babies at home," he says in the article beginning on page 8. "When I go down to our company slaughterhouse to buy chicken for my family, I do it with confidence because I know our product is safe and free of drug residues. Food safety has to be our first priority "for us, for our customers and for the image of the poultry industry."

In our special report about the global symposium we sponsored for nutritionists working to manage disease through better intestinal health, I was struck by Dr. Joaquim Brufau's list of the top three concerns in the European poultry industry: food safety, food safety and food safety.

More drug bans coming

Later that same day, I reviewed a paper that my colleague, Dr. Fabio Paganini, prepared for the Seventeenth European Symposium on the Quality of Poultry Meat in the Netherlands this May. He noted the growing concerns from consumers and the medical community about antibiotic resistance in animals being passed along to humans. Even though this relationship has been a controversial issue, the use in animal feed in the European Union will be prohibited as of January 1, 2006. How long will it be before the US and other major markets do the same "if only to meet demands of export markets?

Then there are the ionophores, another type of feed antibiotic commonly used in poultry and livestock to manage coccidiosis. Paganini writes that the use of these in-feed anticoccidials in livestock does not appear to be related to the development of resistance in humans.

"However," he adds, "their toxicity to non-target species and the potential contamination of meat, animal feed and the environment with residues have made a growing number of poultry producers discontinue their use in favor of drug-free alternatives such as vaccines.

"When vaccination is coupled with good management, particularly high quality nutrition, it greatly reduces or eliminates the need for drugs used to control coccidiosis as well as other conditions in birds. At the same time, it allows producers to be as cost-competitive as when using anticoccidials."

There are alternatives

Schering-Plough Animal Health saw this trend coming in the 1990s and recognized the need for alternatives to coccidiosis management. That certainly gave us reason to speed development of our two lines of coccidiosis vaccines, Coccivac and Paracox, but we also saw an opportunity to help the poultry industry find drug-free alternatives without compromising performance, efficiency and profitability.

In time we recognized that there was more to managing coccidiosis in drug-free birds than swapping a medication for a vaccine. To make this work effectively, poultry companies also need to rethink their nutrition programs and focus on better intestinal health.

We are happy that we can share our expertise in this area "whether it's through an article in CocciForum, a visit to a customer or by hosting major seminars, such as the ones we held recently in Madeira (page6) and Atlanta at the International Poultry Expo.

More importantly, we are grateful for the many independent experts who have been working closely with us to develop the IDEA concept for better intestinal health. You can count on us to bring you more ideas and products for better intestinal health in the future.

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