Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

New report shows progress in achieving farm antibiotic targets to reduce, refine & replace

Twelve months after industry-led targets for antibiotic use were identified for all main farm livestock species in the UK, a review of progress has been released, including details of where targets have been achieved early and where challenges remain.

The ‘One Year On’ report, issued today (16 November) by RUMA’s Targets Task Force, is a follow up to the work of the group in 2017, when a leading farmer and veterinary surgeon from each sector identified different starting points and potential for reduction in each species then worked with their respective sectors to gain support for the plans [1].

RUMA’s secretary general Chris Lloyd says this new review not only shows the transparency and accountability with which each sector is addressing its targets, but also collects information on progress into one place.

“The UK farming industry has already achieved reductions of 40% in sales of antibiotics over the past five years [2] and is one of the lowest users of antibiotics in Europe. However, delivering against these and future sector-specific goals will be key to meeting the government’s ambitions in its new 5-year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, to be released early next year,” he explains.

“What this review shows is the industry as a whole is committed and making good progress – but also that the sectors are all in very different places.

“Some species have met their targets already but now, with a measure of what’s happening in their sector, they know they can go further and are working on new goals. For others at or around their optimal level of use, progress is about animal health, continual refinements to what they do and working to overcome new diseases threats as they emerge.”

He says the pig sector is on track to meet its ambitious target reductions by 2020 but there is awareness of how much tougher it will get each year to deliver the changes needed; next steps could require investment or some brave decision-making for some.

“Cattle and sheep farmers and their veterinary surgeons are also working on a range of interventions, although a lack of representative data on antibiotic use across these specific sectors continues to be a challenge. If they had access to better data, this would give them more clarity over what is actually being used, and when – and where – improvements could be made.”

Mr Lloyd also stresses the importance of responsible reductions that do not compromise animal health and its associated welfare.

“The approach has to be sustainable with an end-goal of optimal – not zero – use. Antibiotics play an important role in preventing pain and suffering in our farm livestock as well as ensuring food safety. This is why it’s important to judge progress against the whole range of qualitative and quantitative measures in the review.”

Download RUMA TTF 1 year on – Full Report FINAL here.

[1] Targets Task Force report. RUMA, October 2017

[2] Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report 2017


Response to FSA surveillance report on antimicrobial-resistant E. coli in meat

RUMA welcomes the latest antibiotic resistance surveillance report from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), published today. The positive news is that levels of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in UK retail meat remain low. This is consistent with the findings of other recent UK surveillance which has found that the number and levels of antibiotic-resistant isolates is not increasing, or is even reducing in some areas, despite the complexity of the relationship between antibiotic use and the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The anomaly of the mcr-1 gene found in the imported (non-UK) beef sample as reported by the FSA appears to be a one-off incident. However, while isolation of a colistin-resistant organism does not mean that colistin has been used in that animal, this finding has given all sectors an opportunity to review current tight measures regarding use of Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs).

All veterinary organisations covering the main farm animal species in the UK have restricted use of colistin to absolute last resort or eliminated its use completely over the past three years. Regarding the specific situation in cattle, the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) issued guidance in January 2017 that colistin should only be used as last resort when no other options remain to safeguard animal welfare, and once sensitivity testing has been carried out.

Further safeguards are in place through Red Tractor, which covers 85% of UK beef production, stating that HP-CIAs for the beef, lamb and dairy sectors must only used as a last resort under veterinary direction alongside sensitivity and/or diagnostic testing.

For context, sales of colistin in UK farm animals have fallen 99% since 2013, and just 7kg in total was used in 2017. This is one thousandth of the EU recommended maximum.

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