Antibiotic plan for Danish producers carries international challenge

Pig producers in Denmark have voluntarily set themselves the target of halving their use of the antibiotic, Tetracycline, before the end of 2015.

The move is being taken in response to medical profession concerns that the use of tetracycline in livestock may increase resistance prevalence among humans.

“As pig producers account for a large proportion of antibiotic consumption in Denmark, it is quite natural that we should also take responsibility for the future,” said the director of the Danish Pig Research Centre, Claus Fertin.

“We are seeing how resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, are spreading in the human population, making the treatment of infections more difficult. It is, therefore, important that we take precautionary steps to pre-empt some of the potential risks of resistance spreading.”

The Danish industry, which reduced antibiotic usage by 13% between 2009 and 2013, has also agreed that its “yellow card scheme” will be modified to focus on the use of ‘critical’ antibiotics. The scheme was introduced in 2010 to indentify pig farmers who were using more antimicrobials than twice the average, giving them, in football terms, a “yellow card” penalty.

Mr Fertin also said he hoped Denmark’s food minister would now seek to persuade other countries to reduce their use of tetracycline, alongwith other agents that are important in the treatment of humans.

“Denmark is not a desert island,” he said. “The challenges posed by the spread of antibiotic resistance must be solved internationally.”  

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