British Poultry Antibiotic Use Causes Controversy

UK - The British Poultry Council (BPC) has presented data on antibiotic use for 2015, showing a 28 per cent drop in overall usage of antibiotics compared to 2014 in the poultry meat sector.
calendar icon 12 February 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

The data release comes after an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that claimed use of fluoroquinolones in the industry has increased by 59 per cent in the last 12 months.

The organisation said that fluoroquinolones have been banned in some countries due to risks of resistance developing in human pathogens.

The Bureau says it obtained unpublished data from the BPC from the "latest 12-month reporting period".

But the 59 per cent increase it reported in fluoroquinolone use seems to relate to a comparison of 2014 use (1.126 tonnes) with 2013 use (0.71 tonnes).

The data release from the BPC said that fluoroquinolone usage was reduced by 53 per cent in 2015.

Whilst not commenting directly on the fluoroquinolone issue, BPC Chairman John Reed said in the release that he believes that the industry will continue to make further improvements following on from analysis of the data.

“Our sector has led the way, with real progress seen since the formation of our BPC Chicken Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme in 2011. The data shows that the industry is holding to its commitment,” he said.

The British poultry meat sector is currently the only sector that collects and shares its antibiotic usage with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

Daniel Parker, Veterinary Adviser to the BPC said: “We use the data collected to monitor usage of all antibiotic classes and identify where improvements can be made. Collecting this annual usage over a number of years will mean we can focus on trends.”

The BPC said analysis of the data identified Colistin, a last-resort antibiotic in human medicine, as an antibiotic that could be targeted.

Speaking on behalf of the BPC Chicken Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme, Mr Reed said: “We recognise the importance of Colistin as an antibiotic of last resort for human medicine, the BPC membership undertake not to use Colistin in their flocks.”

The BPC's statement said the move marks another proactive decision by the sector, following through with its promise to promote responsible usage of antibiotics.

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