RUMA Responds on Call to Cut Antibiotic Use

UK - Earlier this week, two organisations wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, calling for curbs on the use of antibiotic use in poultry. Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) has responded, saying that a ban on certain antibiotics would be detrimental to the health and welfare of poultry.
calendar icon 3 April 2009
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An alliance of organisations and producers has hit back at recent calls to curb the use of antibiotics in poultry farming by highlighting the need for these products to protect human health, according to Farmers Weekly Interactive (FWi).

Earlier this week, the Soil Association and Compassion in World Farming sent a joint letter to prime minister Gordon Brown, calling for tighter rules on antibiotic use in farming.

In response, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) highlighted that vets need the full range of antibiotics to help protect the health and welfare of Britain's farm animals, and to help ensure the safety of food derived from those animals.

RUMA welcomed the call by the chief medical officer for the responsible use of antibiotics in both humans and animals, as this is something the alliance has being promoting through vets and their producers since its establishment over 10 years ago.

But RUMA added that calls to ban certain groups of antibiotics – cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones – was short-sighted. It would be counter-productive and detrimental to animal, and ultimately human, health and welfare.

RUMA's director, Tony Andrews, told FWi, "The 2007 veterinary antibiotic usage figures, published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in July 2008, show that RUMA's work to reduce the need to use antibiotics seems to be having an effect."

He pointed to RUMA's species-specific guidelines on best practice for the use of antibiotics which it drafted. The detailed guidelines for use by vets in conjunction with producers were based on the approach that antimicrobials were chosen and used based on diagnosis and known sensitivities of the micro-organisms involved.

The usage of cephalosporins and quinolones was very small compared with that of the more traditional antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracyclines, he added. But they had their role to play when they were shown to be the right choice by investigation into a specific disease situation.

"The RUMA guidelines, both the series on antimicrobials and the more recently issued advice on vaccines and vaccination, emphasise measures to prevent the need for treatments of any kind. These measures could relate to housing or nutrition, for example, as well as medicines," Mr Andrews said.

RUMA fully supported the use of antimicrobials where they were needed. Antimicrobials were vital to the health of farm livestock and poultry, and were only administered under the prescription of a vet, concludes the FWi report.

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