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New reports highlight pig sector antibiotic progress

8th Nov 2022 / By Rebecca Veale

Two antibiotic reports have been published today from RUMA and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

The RUMA Targets Task Force update documents the progress made over the previous year by each sector against the voluntary targets set by industry in 2020.

The ambitious targets for the pig sector were put together by the Pig Health and Welfare Council’s Antimicrobial Usage sub-group and the report highlights the excellent progress made by the sector despite the challenges faced over the last few years.

The eMB data published by AHDB in June for antibiotic usage in 2021 which showed a 17% drop in overall antibiotic usage from the previous year to 87mg/kg PCU is referenced alongside the progress made with regard to use of in-water medication, medicines training and persistently high users.

Read the RUMA Targets Task Force II – Two Years On report (the pigs update starts on page 22)

VARSS report

The VMD’s annual Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report (VARSS) for 2020 gives an overview of overall antibiotic sales before detailing the progress made by each sector where data allows.

Sales of veterinary antibiotics for use in food-producing animals, adjusted for animal population, were 28.3mg/kg; a 2.0mg/kg (6%) decrease since 2020 and an overall 34mg/kg (55%) decrease since 2014 – representing the lowest sales to date.

VARSS 2022

Importantly, sales of Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs) account for 0.4% of total sales and have dropped to 0.12 mg/kg in 2021 – an 18% decrease since 2020.

The report also includes the results from clinical and harmonised surveillance work undertaken by the VMD. The harmonised surveillance showed mostly decreasing trends of antimicrobial resistance in indicator E. coli from healthy pigs at slaughter since 2015. There is one unexpected result, which the VMD is investigating further.

Clinical surveillance is not representative but acts as scanning surveillance of animal disease – the resistance levels observed in the many veterinary pathogens showed limited change over the monitoring period covered by the report (2019 to 2021).

Read the VARSS report in full or catch up with the highlights

NPA reaction

NPA Chief Policy Adviser, Rebecca Veale, said: “Both reports highlight the success and progress achieved by the pig sector.

"Whilst the numbers are important and should be celebrated especially given the challenging few years our industry has faced, the more holistic targets which industry has set also demonstrate the wider commitment to a responsible approach to medicines and pig health.

“As a sector we should be very proud and continue to build on this excellent journey to date.”