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UK poultry sector celebrates antibiotic stewardship success

By encouraging innovation, sharing best practices and being open to change, the UK poultry sector has made significant gains in its antibiotic stewardship over the last decade.

23 September 2021, at 8:00am

The British Poultry Council has released its landmark Antibiotic Stewardship Report, celebrating ten years of Stewardship success.

This year’s use of antibiotics in the poultry meat sector report highlights the achievements made by the British sector’s drive for excellence in bird health and welfare that is delivering the responsible use of antibiotics and safeguarding their efficacy across the supply chain.

According to the new report, since 2012, the BPC Antibiotic Stewardship has helped achieve:

  • 74.2% reduction in the total use of antibiotics
  • 95.5% reduction in the use of critically important antibiotics
  • 97.2% reduction in the use of fluroquinolones

In 2020, the sector used 21 tonnes of antibiotics.

The British poultry meat sector stands committed to upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics effective for future generations and tackling antimicrobial resistance. UK poultry meat producers have stopped all preventative treatments and the highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a "last resort" for chickens, turkeys, and ducks.

British Poultry Council Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “The British poultry meat industry was the first livestock sector to voluntarily develop a strategy for the responsible use of antibiotics, finding the path for other sectors to follow suit, as noted by Professor Peter Borriello, former CEO of Veterinary Medicines Directorate. Since then, BPC member businesses have successfully reduced their total antibiotic use by nearly 75%.

As the sector producing half the meat this country eats, our Antibiotic Stewardship plays a crucial role in delivering good bird health and welfare, ensuring responsible use of antibiotics, safeguarding the efficacy of antibiotics, and helping produce food people can trust.”

The sector is under the Government approved RUMA species-specific sector targets, so our approach continues to work. Through further coordinated action between poultry farmers, veterinarians, producers and policy makers at local, regional, national and global levels, we will continue to preserve the efficacy of our antibiotics and contribute to turning the tide against antimicrobial resistance.

And a win for the turkey sector

A huge effort to reduce use of antibiotics, particularly Critically Important Antibiotics, in turkeys has seen usage fall to 25.7 mg/pcu – almost 50% lower than the RUMA species-specific target. Since 2014, the turkey sector has reduced mg/pcu by 88.2%. This success demonstrates the commitment of the sector to upholding the UK’s stance on tackling antimicrobial resistance. The responsible use of antibiotics keeps them effective for future generations.

You can download our latest report right here.