NPA chief executive Zoe Davies has updated the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board on the excellent progress being made within the pig sector towards reducing antibiotic usage.
In a briefing lasting nearly an hour, Dr Davies explained how the NPA had launched its Antibiotic Stewardship Programme last May, taking a holistic approach to the challenge. She outlined steps taken so far to implement it, alongside other important industry developments. These include:
- Antibiotic data covering around 60% of 2015 production has now been entered onto the eMB-Pigs database
- Entering data onto eMB-Pigs will become a requirement of the Red Tractor pork scheme from this autumn
- The NPA is part of a cross-sector Targets Task Force, which will agree new challenging long-term antibiotic reduction targets with Government over the summer
- Official Government figures showed sales of antibiotic products licensed for pigs only were down 24% in 2015, while sales for pigs and poultry were down 10 per cent. Further progress is expected in 2016 and 2017
- The figures also confirmed low usage of Critically Important Antibiotics (CIAs) and low resistance to these
- Separate figures supplied by the feed industry showed that the proportion of feed for young pigs containing a prescribed antibiotic fell from 37% at the beginning of 2014 to 18% by the end of 2016, with two thirds of the reduction taking place last year
- Practical advice is being made available to farmers to improve pig health and reduce antibiotic use via AHDB Pork and trade publications, such as Pig World
- Efforts are being made to improve education across the industry, including the introduction of specific content on responsible antibiotic use to the City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate of Competence in the Safe and Responsible Use of Veterinary Medicines
- Work is being done to find alternatives to antibiotics, such as through autogenous vaccination and advanced genetic techniques.
To view the evidence session, click here
Dr Davies said: “The industry is making tremendous progress reducing and refining use of antibiotics and we are up for the challenge of new usage targets. It really is a collective effort.
“But we have got a lot more to do and we need to ensure we retain the right balance between responsible use of antibiotics and retaining the tools to tackle health problems in our pigs when they arise.
“This will be a key message for us to get across to retailers and the rest of the supply chain as new targets are set.”