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NPA chief executive updates FSA board on antibiotic progress

21st Mar 2017 / By Alistair Driver

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies has updated the board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on the progress the pig sector is making in reducing antibiotic usage.

ZDZoe was invited to address the board in a closed session, as the agency looks to keep tabs on what is happening across the food industry to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

There was plenty of good news to impart, as the pig sector continues to make rapid progress in uploading usage data onto the eMB-Pigs database, with approaching 60% of the 2015 herd covered, and antibiotic sales falling. 

This reflects efforts across the UK pork supply chain to refine and reduce usage, while the Red Tractor pork scheme will incorporate new standards focusing on antibiotic recording and prescribing in the autumn. 

Zoe also provided an update on progress with implementing the NPA's Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, which sets out an holistic approach to tackling the problem. 

Zoe said: "We are never complacent and there is plenty more to do, but the industry really is taking great strides forward in reducing and refining antibiotic usage, ahead of the establishment of new sector targets later this year.  

"The presentation was well received and FSA board members were pleased to see such good progress in a relatively short space of time. It is hoped that this approach will encourage the FSA to work with the pig industry in a positive way going forwards."

The key elements of the NPA's Antibiotic Stewardship Programme are: 

  • Capture and collate antibiotic use data recorded on pig farms
  • Benchmark each farm's antibiotic use against other farms of a similar type
  • Extend education in effective disease control strategies and promote uptake of the City & Guilds Certificate of Competence in Safe Use of Veterinary Medicines recently updated to include specific reference to antibiotics
  • Reduce antibiotic use, consistent with responsible human and food-animal medicine
  • Promote veterinary prescribing principles to strictly limit the use of antibiotics of critical importance to human health
  • Appoint Stewardship Commissars who will continually review industry's use of antimicrobials and champion initiatives.