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NPA producer group recommends eMB should be compulsory under Red Tractor

7th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA producer group has recommended that providing antibiotic use data in the Electronic Medicines Book (eMB-Pigs) should be a requirement of the Red Tractor pork scheme.  

The NPA will now write to Mike Sheldon, chair of the Red Tractor Pork Board, to formally make the request.

Mr Sheldon said the new requirement could be recommended immediately and, subject to the agreement of the Red Tractor Pork board, could be in place as a scheme requirement by the first quarter of 2017. Producers will also need to be notified about the changes.  

While some pig farmers remain reluctant to use eMB-Pigs, producer group members agreed there were no grounds for any further delay in making it a compulsory part of Red Tractor. It is already compulsory under the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) scheme for pigs.

eMB Pigs is a UK-wide website developed by AHDB Pork and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), supported by Northern Ireland and the Scottish and Welsh levy bodies. 

It enables producers to provide aggregated records of antibiotic usage which will satisfy the current Red Tractor requirement for an annual collation.

It will also enable AHDB to collate industry-wide information, putting us in a much stronger position to defend our usage and set evidence based reduction targets as required by the VMD in response to the recommendations of the O’Neill report on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

About 75 per cent of antibiotics sold in the UK are licensed to be used in both pigs and poultry. The poultry meat industry has been recording industry-wide usage for some time but the pig sector has lagged behind.

While some farmers are already recording antibiotic use on eMB-Pigs, uptake has been not been at the levels the industry had been hoping hoping for.

Under e-MB-Pigs, data has been collected for about 10 per cent of English/Welsh finishers for 2015 and about 9 per cent for the first half of 2016.

Speaking at the NPA producer group meeting in London on Tuesday, the association's chairman Richard Lister said: “We really do need to collect that data to show we are using antibiotics responsibly."