What's New ? - 2022

What's New ? - 2022

Ending routine farm antibiotic use in Europe

29 January, 2022

On 28 January 2022, ambitious rules restricting the use of veterinary antimicrobials will start applying across the European Union (EU). These new rules ban the routine use of antibiotics and restrict preventative use to exceptional treatments of individual animals. Also, antimicrobials can no longer be applied to compensate for poor hygiene and animal husbandry practices.
A report written for the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) raises concern about the probability of widespread non-compliance with the legislation.
This is because, it argues, there is so far little indication that Europe is moving away from highly intensive livestock farming systems. Such systems are often associated with factors that drive the routine and excessive use of antibiotics, such as inadequate animal husbandry and high levels of disease.
Therefore, while prophylactic group treatments with antibiotics are likely to end after 28 January 2022, or at least be greatly reduced, it now seems inevitable that antibiotics will continue to be used, in breach of the new legislation, to prop up farming systems with inadequate husbandry and suboptimal animal health. On some farms it seems likely that routine antibiotic use will continue.
To ensure that the new EU regulations on farm antibiotics are implemented in full, ending all forms of routine antibiotic use, and in particular ending the use of antibiotics to compensate for inadequate husbandry and poor hygiene, new targeted policies are now needed.
Recommendations - Policies and targets for antibiotic use and data collection:
1. Low levels of farm antibiotic use. In each animal species, antibiotic use should be kept below 30 mg per kg of “population correction unit” (PCU). Eventually, use should be cut to 15 mg/kg or less in each species.
2. Most antibiotic use should be for individual treatments. In most farm-animal species, most antibiotics should be used for individual treatments of sick animals, and not as group treatments (with the exception of the poultry industry where all treatments have to be group treatments). Countries should aim for group treatments to account for less than 30% of all farm antibiotic treatments, and eventually to just 15% or less.
3. Antibiotic-use data should be collected by species and by farming system. The new EU regulations will require Member States to collect antibiotic-usage data by species. Countries should also publish data by farming system, such as intensive, higher-welfare indoor, free-range, organic or pasture-fed. Obtaining data by farming system will provide extremely important information on which husbandry factors are most linked with reducing or increasing infections and antibiotic use.
4. Restrictions on highest-priority critically important antibiotics. The veterinary use of the antibiotic colistin should be banned, since it is used as a last-resort for treating life-threatening infections in humans and there is clear evidence that resistance to colistin has passed from farm animals to humans. The use of fluoroquinolone and modern cephalosporin antibiotics, which are classified as highest-priority critically important antibiotics, should be restricted to the treatment of individual sick animals where no other treatments are likely to work. These antibiotics should never be used for group treatments nor should they be used for prophylaxis, even in individual animals. It should also not be permitted to use these antibiotics off-label.

 

Related Links
Link The report