A new ‘Targets Task Force’ has met for the first time to discuss how meaningful objectives to reduce, refine and replace antibiotic use in all UK livestock sectors can be identified.
At this first workshop, the group, set up by RUMA (an agricultural and food industry alliance which promotes responsible use of medicines in farm animals), shared the wide range of activities already underway. It then discussed how each sector could play its part in what is an international push across human and animal medicine to reduce use of antibiotics.
RUMA chair Gwyn Jones says a common, co-ordinated strategy was agreed at the meeting and that over the coming months, each sector will define objectives to lower disease burden, improve immunity and use products more effectively to minimise the development of antibiotic resistance.
He says: “Currently, the UK is among the lower users of antibiotics in farming in Europe. Recently published antibiotic sales data for food producing animals also shows a 10% reduction between 2014 and 2015, progress the industry hopes to continue.
“Despite this, we all understand the message that we must further reduce antibiotic use where it’s possible to do so without impacting animal welfare.
“The benefit of the Targets Task Force became apparent at this first meeting, in the sharing of information, ideas and motivation; we are confident that by learning and getting inspiration from each other across different sectors, we can bring about the step change needed.”
The Targets Task Force was proposed by RUMA after the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’s final report was published in May 2016.
While the Government response to this report has challenged UK agriculture to reduce average antibiotic use by a fifth to 50mg/kg by 2018, it has supported the move for the industry to develop its own sector-specific targets, asking for these to be confirmed by the end of 2017.
The Task Force is scheduled to meet every two months throughout next year with update announcements planned after each meeting.