Antibiotics Awareness Day

18 November 2012 is the EU’s Antibiotic Awareness Day and RUMA is urging farmers and vets to use this day to review whether they are using antibiotics responsibly.

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, said antibiotics are key medicines in both human and animal health. They should not be used as a substitute for good farm management which helps prevent disease but when they are used they help to maintain animal health and welfare and provide safe food for the consumer.

Antibiotic Awareness Day provides an ideal opportunity for everyone using antibiotics in agriculture to ensure they are doing so responsibly which means:

  • only using antibiotics prescribed by your vet and supplied by the vet or from an approved source under a veterinary prescription. If buying medicines over the internet only use an approved VMD website or you could waste your money on a substance that does not work or worse could harm your animals
  • using the antibiotic in accordance with the instructions on the label. It is vitally important to give the full dose for the whole treatment period to avoid increasing the risk of resistance
  • not using antibiotics as a substitute for good farm management
  • vets should prescribe antibiotics under the cascade as a last resort
  • where there are older alternatives, vets should use susceptibility testing before prescribing modern antibiotics.

Mr FitzGerald said that antibiotic resistance is an important one-health issue and those using veterinary antibiotics must play their part in helping tackle it. The EU will be reviewing the veterinary medicines legislation in 2013 and is likely to propose changes to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. UK farmers and vets need to be aware of the risks to the availability of antibiotics to treat their animals and to continue to show that they use them responsibly.


  1. RUMA is an alliance of organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process which aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines on farm. A full list of RUMA members is at paragraph 4 below. For further information contact RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald ( or see the RUMA website
  2. European Commission proposals to amend the Veterinary Medicines Directive (2001/82) are expected by March 2013. They could include:
    • banning or limiting the use of the modern antibiotics e.g. fluoroquinolones, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins which are regarded as critically important to human medicine
    • banning or limiting the use of antibiotics under the cascade
    • banning vets from supplying antibiotics (they would be allowed only to prescribe them)
    • banning or limiting the preventive use of veterinary antibiotics