Antibiotic report welcomed by the pig industry

The National Pig Association (NPA) has welcomed the encouraging news that the UK sale of antibiotics for use in livestock has reached an all-time low. 

At 24%, sales for products licensed for pigs dropped by almost a quarter. The report also showed there was a drop in sales of the highest-priority antibiotics that are critically important to humans.

NPA chief executive Dr Zoe Davies said the association was encouraged by the news. “We fully expect to see further reductions in 2016 and are committed to meeting the challenge of new targets that come our way,” she explained. “We will continue to press for these to be workable and proportionate. Meanwhile, we will continue to push forward the key principles of our Antibiotic Stewardship Programme to drive further change.”

The report also recognised the work the pig industry was doing to collect on-farm data via the electronic eMB-Pigs database.
NPA senior policy adviser, Dr Georgina Crayford, encouraged pig producers to upload their data if they had not done so already. “Sales data can only tell us so much,” she said. “Entering data onto eMB-Pigs is necessary to give us a more detailed understanding of the volume of antibiotics used on-farm and how they are used. This, in turn, will help us agree reasonable reduction targets next year.”

NPA ‘encouraged’ by findings

While the NPA admitted to having concerns about the report’s findings of ESBL-producing E.coli, Crayford claimed the association was comforted by the fact that the ESBL genes found in E.coli from animals has previously been different genes to ESBL E.coli found in human clinical cases.

“We are equally encouraged to see little to no resistance to third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, critically important classes of antibiotics for human health, in salmonella isolated from pigs,” she added.

“When it comes to setting further targets for the pig sector, it is important to note that, while we’re committed to using antibiotics responsibly, reductions in antibiotic use will not necessarily result in a reduction in bacterial resistance. The key is to ensure the further development of antimicrobial resistance does not happen.

“We must also ensure that, as we take further steps to reduce antibiotic usage, we do not compromise the health and welfare of our livestock.”

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