Immediately following the news that sales of antibiotics to treat and prevent disease in UK farm livestock have achieved a record low following a 27% reduction over the past two years, targets for further reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use across the key livestock sectors have been announced at a London conference today (27 October).
The sector-specific targets were developed over the past year by a ‘Targets Task Force’, facilitated by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance.
The Targets Task Force comprises a leading veterinary surgeon and farmer from each of the beef, dairy, egg, fish, gamebird, pig, poultry meat and sheep sectors, who have been consulting with key organisations in their respective industries. The group also includes observers from regulators Food Standards Agency and Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).
The headline targets for the eight sectors include a reduction in use of antibiotics in pigs by over 60% between 2015 and 2020, with minimal use of highest priority Critically Important Antibiotics (CIAs). Data released earlier in the day indicate a good start has been made, with usage in the pig sector falling by around 35% between 2015 and 2016.
Targets Task Force member and president of the Pig Veterinary Society Mark White said he was pleased such a significant milestone had been reached in the first year of concerted efforts to reduce antibiotic use.
“It’s encouraging to see the response in the sector to the challenge laid down, which bodes well for achieving our ambitious 2020 goal,” he said. “It is evident that the sector – steered mainly by the members of the Pig Veterinary Society, AHDB Pork and the National Pig Association – has the will and the capability to fully engage with the issue.”
Next steps, he said, were to focus on eliminating routine preventative treatment where it is still happening, mainly due to lack of resource or expertise. “We can also work to improve water delivery systems so that more targeted treatment in the water can be used instead of in-feed medication.”
The Targets Task Force was first proposed by RUMA after the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance was published in May 2016. The group was progressed after Government confirmed an objective to have sector-specific targets in place by the end of 2017.
The full report with starting points and targets for each sector can be downloaded from RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2017 FINAL.
Friday October 27, 2017/ RUMA/ United Kingdom.