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Antibiotic stewardship

The British Poultry Council (BPC) has released its 2018 Antibiotic Stewardship Report[8], which highlights the achievements made by the British poultry meat sector’s drive to deliver responsible use of antibiotics to safeguard the efficacy of antibiotics across the supply chain.

The poultry meat sector became the first UK live­stock sector to pioneer a data collection mechanism and share antibiotic usage data with the Govern­ment’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Data collected by the BPC is published every year as part of the UK-Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (UK-VARSS) Report. The BPC collects and monitors usage of all antibiotic classes in the UK poultry meat industry aiming to promote and apply best practice throughout the supply chain. It has facilitated sharing of best practice on responsible use of antibiotics with other livestock sectors in the UK and across the world.

The BPC is working with animal and human health experts to develop a methodology for rapid on-farm diagnostics to increase speed of antibiotic sensitivity testing and to ensure early diagnosis. The aim is to use the diagnostic and sensitivity testing tools used in human medicine to better map bird health and welfare, evaluate the impact of disease control programmes and implement robust surveillance. The BPC is also supporting scientific research into examining the link between antibiotic use and resistance in the poultry production chain, understanding patterns of transmission and tackling antimicrobial resistance.

Nearly a billion birds are reared for food every year in the UK, representing half the meat eaten in the country; poultry meat production has increased by 10% in the last six years (2012-2017). Since 2012, the British Poultry Council Antibiotic Stewardship programme has helped to deliver significant reductions in the overall use of antibiotics:

• 82% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last six years (2012-2017),

• 91% reduction in the use of Fluoroquinolones (a Critically Important Antimicrobial for human health) in the last six years (2012-2017),

• 39% reduction in net use of antibiotics in the last year,

• 60.44% reduction in overall antibiotic use in chickens, 59.57% in ducks and 80.90% in turkeys in the last three years.

• There has been a significant reduction across all classes of antibiotics used in the last two years, most notably, a 63.09% reduction in the use of tetracyclines and a 22.02% reduction in the use of amoxycillin.

The BPC claims that UK poultry farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to preserve the health and welfare of the birds. It argues that responsible use of antibiotics is about more than reduction targets and that zero use is neither ethical nor sustainable as it goes against farmers’ duty to alleviate pain and suffering.



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