Poultry antibiotic use cut by 71% since 2012

The British Poultry Council (BPC) has reported a massive drop in the use of antibiotics over the past five years. 

In its 2017 Antibiotic Stewardship Report, the BPC recorded a 71% reduction in the use of antibiotics in the UK poultry meat sector between 2012 and 2016.

Other achievements made in 2016 included stopping prophylactic use of antibiotics, use of Colistin and agreeing new antibiotic standards for Red Tractor Poultry Assurance which are due to be implemented in October of this year.

John Reed, chairman of the BPC, praised the achievements made in the industry.

“We are delighted with the progress we’ve made, but there is more work to be done,” he said. “Our Antibiotic Stewardship continuously reviews on-farm management practices to ensure sustainable use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain.

“Antibiotic use, and antimicrobial resistance, in humans and animals is one of the biggest health challenges we face on a global scale. The UK poultry meat industry has taken up this challenge and is the only livestock sector currently collating and publishing data. But data alone is not enough. We are committed to clinical governance and knowing how and why we use antibiotics. Livestock, like people, get ill, and will need antibiotics to preserve their health.”

In the report, Reed also ruled out zero use of antibiotics. “Through our antibiotic stewardship, we are continuously reviewing our on-farm management practices to ensure sustainable use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain.

“Our farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to treat sick birds – zero use is not an option. Sustainable use of antibiotics is about so much more than reduction targets, and we are proud to have begun that journey. We will safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics as part of our sustainable food production, we will protect the health and welfare of our birds, and we will feed the nation.”

Looking ahead, the BPC aims to examine the link between antibiotic use and resistance in the poultry production chain as well as build knowledge of antimicrobial resistance.

“In the next couple of years, we will be building on our successes and will continue working closely with our members (representing 90% of UK poultry meat production) to better understand and control why and when antibiotics are used and in what quantity.

“Then we will transparently communicate our actions and share best practice on sustainable use.

“Through more coordinated action between poultry meat farmers, processors and the scientific community, as well as policy makers at local, regional, national and global levels, we will continue preserving the efficacy of our antibiotics.”

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