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Livestock sectors to set antibiotic objectives

24th Dec 2016 / By Alistair Driver

The UK livestock sectors will define objectives to reduce, refine and replace antibiotic use over the coming months, ahead of formal discussions with Government on new long-term targets.

Gwyn JonesA new ‘Targets Task Force’, set up by RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture), has met for the first time to discuss how these meaningful objectives can be identified.

At this first workshop, the group shared the wide range of activities already underway and discussed how each sector could play its part in what is an international push across human and animal medicine to reduce use of antibiotics.

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones said a common strategy was agreed that will see each sector over the coming months define objectives to lower disease burden, improve immunity and use products more effectively to minimise the development of antibiotic resistance.


He said: “Currently, the UK is among the lower users of antibiotics in farming in Europe. Recently published antibiotic sales data for food producing animals also shows a 10 per cent reduction between 2014 and 2015, progress the industry hopes to continue.

“Despite this, we all understand the message that we must further reduce antibiotic use where it’s possible to do so without impacting animal welfare.

“We are confident that by learning and getting inspiration from each other across different sectors, we can bring about the step change needed.”

The Targets Task Force was proposed by RUMA after the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’s final report was published in May 2016.

While the Government response to this report has challenged UK agriculture to reduce average antibiotic use by a fifth to 50mg/kg by 2018, it has supported the move for the industry to develop its own sector-specific targets, asking for these to be confirmed by the end of 2017.

The Task Force is scheduled to meet every two months throughout next year with update announcements planned after each meeting.

See the NPA's briefing on its Antibiotic Stewardship Programme here