UK Poultry Sector Achieves Major Antibiotic Use Reduction

UK - The British Poultry Council has released a report detailing the sector's antibiotic use between 2012 and 2015.
calendar icon 12 April 2016
clock icon 4 minute read

Over the period 2012-2015, production increased by 5 per cent, with UK poultry meat accounting for 44 per cent of total UK meat production.

The total antibiotics used in the same period by Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme members decreased by 44 per cent.

It is the first UK livestock industry to pioneer a data collection mechanism to record antibiotic usage covering 90 per cent of the production across chicken (meat), turkey and duck sectors.

It is also the first to share its data with the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and which was published in the recent UK-Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) 2014 report.

BPC Chairman John Reed said: “The BPC Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme has been notably successful in delivering a strategy for the responsible use of antibiotics. We want to continue to be open and transparent and we are proud to be the first UK livestock sector to publish this level of information.”

The BPC Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme was established by the BPC in 2011 bringing together expertise from poultry producers and leading poultry veterinarians.

Members of the Scheme do not support the routine use of antibiotics, and they have in place strict measures to ensure that where they are used, they are used responsibly and in line with the guidelines and principles outlined by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA).

Reg Smith, Chairman of the Scheme said: “Through the formation of the BPC Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme, the sector has taken decisive action to develop a strategy to manage antibiotic use.

"Our key focus is responsible use of antibiotics and, where possible, a reduction in the use of those antibiotics considered to be of most highly critical importance by the World Health Organisation (WHO). We recognise the importance of protecting the integrity of these antimicrobial classes for both animal and human health.”

In 2012, it introduced a voluntary ban on the use of third and fourth generation cephalosporins, and a commitment to reduce the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics. In 2016, the Scheme made a further commitment to not use colistin.

The report includes a breakdown of the total use data into antimicrobial classes, with each poultry meat species (chickens, ducks, turkeys) demonstrating an overall reduction in use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

The report also notes the difference between poultry species (chickens, turkeys, ducks) and the different challenges that can affect bird health with limited effective therapeutic treatments available.

The BPC calls for more research into novel antibiotics and alternative effective therapeutic options.

Daniel Parker, BPC Veterinary Adviser said: “Responsible use is not simply a reduction in usage. We use antibiotics to protect bird health and we will continue to work with government to explore alternatives. Until effective alternatives become available antibiotics will continue to be important in treating bacterial conditions in both human and animal medicine.”

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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