Antimicrobials

The RUMA (The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) Alliance guidelines on the responsible use of antimicrobials come in two formats: short, giving concise information to farmers, and long, aimed at those advising farmers, such as veterinary surgeons.

A unique initiative involving organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process, RUMA aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines

As part of this process, RUMA has formulated comprehensive guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials in livestock production. These give advice on all aspects from application and responsibilities of the farmer and veterinary surgeon, to strategies for reduced usage.

RUMA Guidelines

Risk categorisation for antibiotics

The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA’s) list of highest priority ‘critically important antibiotics’ (CIAs) – identified because of degree of risk to human health should antimicrobial resistance develop after use in animals – has been officially adopted by RUMA.

RUMA Guidelines

Voluntary restrictions to use of colistin in farm animal treatments (imposed December 2015)

RUMA members considered an article in Lancet Infectious Disease reporting that a new gene which makes common bacteria resistant to colistin, a last-line antibiotic, had been found in animals and patients in China. They noted that the EU had called for a revised risk assessment on colistin use in animals and agreed, pending the results of the risk assessment, that colistin use wouldbe restricted to an antibiotic of last resort and will be used only after susceptibility testing had shown it was the only effective antibiotic available for treating the sick animals. RUMA consulted the veterinary sectors who use colistin and they had agreed to restrict their use of colistin. This was deemed a positive and proportionate response, particularly as no E Coli colistin resistance in the UK had been reported in the latest surveillance results.

RUMA Guidelines

Targets Task Force

LATEST: Latest update report released (29 October 2019) IMPORTANT – please read in the context of the original targets report released 2017 and the first annual update from 2018 to understand the full context for each sector.

BACKGROUND: The intention to form the RUMA Targets Task Force was first announced in May 2016 by RUMA. The group convened for its inaugural meeting in December 2016. Its specific aim was to deliver on the Government objective of identifying sector-specific targets for the reduction, refinement or replacement of antibiotics in animal agriculture. It delivered these targets in the RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2017 at the RUMA conference on 27 October 2017. You can watch a video about how the task force developed the targets and arrived at its conclusions below. The work of the Task Force was officially recognised by the medical and veterinary communities when it won the Prescribing and Stewardship category at Public Health England’s 2018 Antibiotic Guardian Awards.

The Targets Task Force – Terms of Reference describe the aims and responsibilities of the Task Force.

The members of the refreshed RUMA Targets Task Force are (by sector alphabetically):

  • Beef: Mark Jelley (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Calves: Hannah Dyke (producer), Richard Cooper (vet)
  • Dairy: Paul Tompkins (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Gamebirds: Paul Jeavons (producer), Will Ingham & Isy Manning (vets)
  • Laying hens: Paul McMullin (vet)
  • Pigs: Richard Lister (producer), Richard Pearson (vet)
  • Poultry meat: Tom Wornham (producer), Daniel Parker (vet)
  • Salmon: Iain Berrill (representing producers), members of the Salmon Prescribing Group (vets)
  • Sheep: Charles Sercombe (producer); Fiona Lovatt (vet)
  • Trout: Oliver Robinson (producer), Peter Scott (vet)
  • Observers: Clive Brown (AHDB), James Russell (BVA), Paul Cook (FSA), Donal Murphy (NOAH), Georgina Crayford (Red Tractor) and Fraser Broadfoot (VMD).

Chairing and Organisation

  • Gwyn Jones, Chair, RUMA (Chair of Targets Task Force)
  • Chris Lloyd,  Secretary General, RUMA (Secretary)
  • Catherine McLaughlin, Vice Chair, RUMA
  • Amy Jackson, Communications Officer, RUMA
RUMA Guidelines

Targets 2021 – 2024

The first set of targets issued in 2017 became the industry roadmap and focus for everyone along the supply chain and across each of the sectors. Last year (2020) the second set of targets up to 2024 (developed by the Targets Task Force 2 – TTF2) were released. In November 2021 the one year on’ review of the second set of targets report was released which provides the first annual progress update and should be read alongside the original Targets Task Force 2020 report for full context.

 

RUMA Targets Task Force 2: One Year on Nov 2021
Antibiotic Use in Cattle - Dairy Trend Data and Usage by Beef Farm Type 2015 - 2019

 

 

The RUMA Targets Task Force 2:
Chair of the RUMA TTF – Cat McLaughlin

Beef Mark Jelly – Beef Farmer
Elizabeth Berry – Vet
Dairy Elizabeth Berry – Vet
RUMA Calf icon Calves Richard Cooper – Vet
RUMA Sheep icon Sheep Charles Sercombe – Sheep Farmer
Fiona Lovatt – Vet
RUMA Pigs icon Pigs Richard Lister – Pig farmer
Paul Thompson – Vet
Ruma Salmon icon Salmon Iain Berrill – SSPO
RUMA Trout icon Trout Oliver Robinson – BTA
Peter Scott – Vet
RUMA Gamebirds icon Gamebirds Paul Jeavons – Game Farmer
Dr Kenny Nutting – Vet
RUMA Laying Hens icon Laying hens Ian Lowery – Vet
RUMA Poultry meat icon Poultry Meat Thomas Wornham – Poultry Farmer
Daniel Parker – Vet
Observers Gwyn Jones – Past Chair, James Russell – BVA, Fraser Broadfoot – VMD, Grace O’Gorman – NOAH, Georgina McDowell – Red Tractor, Mandy Nevel – AHDB
RUMA Chairing and Organisation Catherine McLaughlin – Chair, Chris Lloyd – Secretary General, Dawn Howard – Deputy Chair,
Tim Brigstocke – RUMA Treasurer, Mary Bawn – Communications Manager
RUMA Guidelines

Targets 2017-2020

The original 2017-2020 targets were launched in October 2017.

Following that, annual progress reports were published, culminating in the Target Task Force 2020 Report, which – as well as launching the next set of targets – provided a final 2020 report against the original targets.

 

All the reports:

RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2017
RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2018 One year on
RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2018 Two years on

RUMA Targets Task Force Report in Full

Antibiotic Use in Cattle - Dairy Trend Data and Usage by Beef Farm Type 2015 - 2019

 

 

The original Targets Task Force was:

RUMA Beef hex icon Beef Hugh Broom, Surrey beef farmer and NFU Livestock Board member; Dr Elizabeth Berry, specialist cattle vet and British Cattle Veterinary Association Council member
RUMA Dairy Hex icon Dairy Di Wastenage, Devon dairy farmer and Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers Council member; Dr Elizabeth Berry, specialist cattle vet and British Cattle Veterinary Association Council member
RUMA Laying Hens icon Laying hens Richard Kempsey, free-range egg farmer and Technical Director of Stonegate; Paul McMullin, Consultant Veterinarian to the British Egg Industry Executive
Ruma Salmon icon Aquaculture Dr John Webster, Technical Director at the Scottish Salmon Producers Association; Ronnie Soutar, specialist fish vet and President of the Fish Veterinary Society
RUMA Gamebirds icon Gamebirds Paul Jeavons, Worcestershire game farmer and Chairman of the Game Farmers’ Association Health and Welfare Committee; Christian Blake-Dyke, specialist poultry and game-bird vet
RUMA Pigs icon Pigs Richard Lister, Yorkshire pig farmer and Chairman of the National Pig Association; Mark White, President of the Pig Veterinary Society and Chairman of PVS Medicines Sub-committee
RUMA Poultry meat icon Poultry Meat Thomas Wornham, Hertfordshire poultry producer; Daniel Parker, specialist poultry vet and Veterinary Adviser to the British Poultry Council
RUMA Sheep icon Sheep Charles Sercombe, Leicestershire sheep farmer and Chair of the NFU Livestock Board; Dr Fiona Lovatt, specialist sheep vet representing the Sheep Veterinary Society
Observers Fraser Broadfoot, Veterinary Research Officer, Veterinary Medicines Directorate; Javier Dominguez, Veterinary Director and Head of Science, Evidence and Research, Food Standards Agency; John Fishwick, President, British Veterinary Association; Donal Murphy, Head of Technical and Regulatory Affairs, NOAH; Jess Sloss, Technical Manager, Red Tractor Assurance

The reformed Targets Task Force for 2020 was:

RUMA Cattle Cattle group chair Mark Jelley, Northamptonshire beef farmer and NFU Livestock Board member
Beef Mark Jelley; Dr Elizabeth Berry, cattle vet and British Cattle Veterinary Association Council member
Dairy Graham Young, Lancashire dairy farmer and NFU Dairy Board Vice-Chairman; Dr Elizabeth Berry, cattle vet and BCVA Council member
RUMA Calf icon Calves Hannah Dyke, Yorkshire calf rearer; Richard Cooper, specialist cattle vet with Evidence Group
RUMA Sheep icon Sheep Charles Sercombe, Leicestershire sheep farmer; Dr Fiona Lovatt, specialist sheep vet representing the Sheep Veterinary Society
RUMA Pigs icon Pigs Richard Lister, Yorkshire pig farmer and Chairman of the National Pig Association; Richard Pearson, pig vet and Senior Vice President of Pig Veterinary Society; and members of the Pig Health and Welfare Council Antimicrobial Use subgroup
Ruma Salmon icon Salmon Dr Iain Berrill, Head of Technical, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation; SSPO Prescribing Vets group
RUMA Trout icon Trout Oliver Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of British Trout Association; Dr Peter Scott, fish vet and Director of BTA
RUMA Gamebirds icon Gamebirds Paul Jeavons, Worcestershire game farmer and Chairman of the Game Farmers’ Association Health and Welfare Committee; Will Ingham and Isy Manning, poultry vets with Poultry Health Services
RUMA Laying Hens icon Laying hens Paul McMullin, Consultant Veterinarian to the British Egg Industry Council
RUMA Poultry meat icon Poultry Meat Thomas Wornham, Hertfordshire poultry producer; Daniel Parker, poultry vet and Veterinary Adviser to the British Poultry Council
Observers Fraser Broadfoot, Veterinary Research Officer, Veterinary Medicines Directorate; Paul Cook, Head of Microbiological Risk Assessment, Food Standards Agency
Support Derek Armstrong, Lead Veterinary Science Expert, AHDB; Clive Brown, Head of Beef & Lamb Knowledge Exchange, AHDB; Dr Georgina Crayford, Technical Manager, Red Tractor Assurance; Dr Mandy Nevel, Head of Animal Health and Welfare, AHDB; Dr Grace O Gorman, Technical Policy Manager, NOAH; James Russell, President, British Veterinary Association; Dr Mary Vickers, LIP Product Manager (Data & Technology), AHDB
Chairing and Organisation Gwyn Jones, Chair of Targets Task Force, RUMA; Catherine McLaughlin, Chair, RUMA; Chris Lloyd, Secretary General, RUMA; Amy Jackson, Communications Officer, RUMA
With additional thanks to Jules Dare, Mike Kirby, Kathryn Rowland, Gareth Hateley, members of the Cattle Stewardship Group and researchers from Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham and the Royal Agricultural University.
RUMA Guidelines

Targets Task Force

The intention to form the RUMA Targets Task Force was first announced in May 2016 by RUMA after the final findings of the O’Neill review on Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally were released.

RUMA acknowledged that targets for the responsible use of antibiotics were inevitable – but also believed they could also be most meaningful, appropriate and effective if the different livestock sectors steered their development.

This concept became reality when the Government response to the O’Neill review findings were released later that year, and within them the Government asked the farming industry to develop its own sector-specific targets to reduce, refine or replace antibiotic use.

The original task force – formed of a leading producer or industry representative and leading vet from eight different sectors (with trout and salmon combined as aquaculture) – convened for its inaugural meeting in December 2016. Ten months later it delivered the RUMA Targets Task Force Report 2017 at the RUMA conference on 27 October 2017. Since then, the different livestock sectors have been working to deliver the targets by the 2020 deadline.

The wholesale industry engagement with these voluntary targets and the collaborative nature of the way Government and industry have worked together is unique globally, and has attracted interest from a number of other countries as well as from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety DG Sante. The work of the Task Force was officially recognised by the medical and veterinary communities when it won the Prescribing and Stewardship category at Public Health England’s 2018 Antibiotic Guardian Awards.

 

The original Targets Task Force was:

RUMA Beef hex icon Beef Hugh Broom, Surrey beef farmer and NFU Livestock Board member; Dr Elizabeth Berry, specialist cattle vet and British Cattle Veterinary Association Council member
RUMA Dairy Hex icon Dairy Di Wastenage, Devon dairy farmer and Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers Council member; Dr Elizabeth Berry, specialist cattle vet and British Cattle Veterinary Association Council member
RUMA Laying Hens icon Laying hens Richard Kempsey, free-range egg farmer and Technical Director of Stonegate; Paul McMullin, Consultant Veterinarian to the British Egg Industry Executive
Ruma Salmon icon Aquaculture Dr John Webster, Technical Director at the Scottish Salmon Producers Association; Ronnie Soutar, specialist fish vet and President of the Fish Veterinary Society
RUMA Gamebirds icon Gamebirds Paul Jeavons, Worcestershire game farmer and Chairman of the Game Farmers’ Association Health and Welfare Committee; Christian Blake-Dyke, specialist poultry and game-bird vet
RUMA Pigs icon Pigs Richard Lister, Yorkshire pig farmer and Chairman of the National Pig Association; Mark White, President of the Pig Veterinary Society and Chairman of PVS Medicines Sub-committee
RUMA Poultry meat icon Poultry Meat Thomas Wornham, Hertfordshire poultry producer; Daniel Parker, specialist poultry vet and Veterinary Adviser to the British Poultry Council
RUMA Sheep icon Sheep Charles Sercombe, Leicestershire sheep farmer and Chair of the NFU Livestock Board; Dr Fiona Lovatt, specialist sheep vet representing the Sheep Veterinary Society
Observers Fraser Broadfoot, Veterinary Research Officer, Veterinary Medicines Directorate; Javier Dominguez, Veterinary Director and Head of Science, Evidence and Research, Food Standards Agency; John Fishwick, President, British Veterinary Association; Donal Murphy, Head of Technical and Regulatory Affairs, NOAH; Jess Sloss, Technical Manager, Red Tractor Assurance
RUMA Guidelines

Measuring antibiotic use

General principles

The European Union methodology for calculating levels of use or sales of antibiotics in different species uses a Population Correction Unit (PCU). The PCU is a theoretical unit of measurement developed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2009 and adopted across Europe. This standardised unit allows data to be easily aggregated or compared. It is also the method adopted in the UK for ease of standardising sales data reports to the EU (such as contained in the annual ESVAC report). The PCU takes into account a country’s animal population over a year, along with the estimated weight of each particular species at the time of treatment with antibiotics. The VMD has published a guide to understanding the PCU.

While the PCU used in this way works at a ‘macro’ level, it doesn’t always help those on-farm or in veterinary practices to understand at a management level what is happening regarding antibiotic use. While the PCU may work well in a species which completes its production cycle and is slaughtered within a year, it does not work so well when production cycles last over a year, or when breeding, laying or milking animals which have a continuing cycle of production are involved. For example, the PCU for beef cattle is based on slaughter cattle, which does not apply to calf rearing enterprises, store cattle and suckler herds, all of which sometimes have need of antibiotic treatments. To overcome this, separate metrics have been developed by some sectors to allow calculation of use on-farm for management and purposes.

Dairy

Advice on measuring antibiotic use in dairy herds was originally published in 2019 by the CHAWG Antimicrobial Use subgroup, and was updated in November 2020 in the Dairy Benchmarking Metrics Report, which contains new information on measuring antibiotic use in calves up to six months of age. Supplementary material for beef and dairy benchmarking is also available, detailing breeds and assumptions.

Beef

It has been a more complex task to establish the best metrics to measure antibiotic use in beef herds due to the range of systems in operation, from dairy calf rearing to suckler cows, store cattle growing to finishing. Following an extensive consultation, recommendations for measuring and comparing the use of antibiotics on beef farms were published by the CHAWG Antimicrobial Use subgroup in February 2020. An updated Beef Benchmarking Metrics Report was published in November 2020, with new information on measuring antibiotic use in calves up to six months of age. Supplementary material for beef and dairy benchmarking is also available, detailing breeds and assumptions.

Calves

Calves/youngstock follows the same rules as dairy and beef but some helpful additional measurement criteria are listed in the calves annex to the RUMA TTF report.

Sheep

Advice on measuring antibiotic use in sheep production was published in 2019 by the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group and is detailed in its Calculation of metrics for benchmarking antibiotic use on sheep farms report.

Pigs

The method of measuring and recording antibiotic use in pigs is explained as part of the protocols for uploading data to the sector’s e-Medicine Book (eMB). Uploading usage data to this portal is a requirement of Red Tractor assurance and therefore antibiotic use data for over 90% of animals in the sector is captured in this way. The User Guide published in 2017 explains the metrics on p29, and follow-up advice added in 2018 adjusted the category names.

Laying hens

The laying hen sector uses bird-days as the standard denominator to calculate all proportions or percentages. For the year, it is the mean daily population of birds in the Lion scheme (including breeding birds and pullets in rear) multiplied by 365. A daily dose is a single chicken treated with an antibiotic for one day. Courses of treatment will vary with the clinical need, but are typically 3-5 days. So a flock of 5,000 chickens treated with an antibiotic for 3 days is 15,000 daily doses. The standard reporting metric is daily bird doses/100 bird days at risk (% doses).

Poultry

Calculation of antibiotic use in poultry meat rearing – broiler chickens, turkeys and ducks – is handled by the British Poultry Council. Please contact BPC via its website for details on standard measurement metrics.

Game birds

Game birds do not have a standard PCU figure, and so usage in the sector is reported in tonnes of antibiotic used by the sector as a whole in a year and change is the % by which that tonnage goes up or down. A game farmer wishing to monitor their annual use could use a simple metric of total antibiotic use in mg divided by the number of birds reared.

Salmon

Calculation of antibiotic use in salmon farming is handled by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.  Please contact SSPO via its website for details on standard measurement metrics.

Trout

Calculation of antibiotic use in trout farming is handled by the British Trout Association.  Please contact BTA via its website for details on standard measurement metrics.

RUMA Guidelines

HP-CIAs – ‘last resort’ antibiotics

New scientific advice issued on 28 January 2020 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on risk categorisation of antibiotics for use in animals, including those which should be restricted for use as a last resort, has been recognised by RUMA as the most appropriate categorisation for the UK farm livestock sectors – albeit with more specific advice due shortly from the UK livestock species veterinary associations.

The EMA’s Antimicrobial Advice Ad-Hoc Expert Group (AMEG) constantly reassesses the impact on human health of using different antibiotics in animals, alongside the need to treat disease in animals for health and welfare reasons within the geographical region of Europe.

The main change in the new advice is that four ‘risk’ categories of antibiotics A to D have been identified, replacing the previous three categories.

Category A ‘Avoid’ replaces category 3; these are antibiotics which are reserved for human treatment only and are not permitted for use in food-producing animals.

Category B ‘Restrict’ replaces category 2; these are commonly known as the highest-priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs), and should be confined to use in veterinary medicine only as a last resort after sensitivity testing has been conducted, and when no other antibiotic would be clinically effective. The antibiotics in this group remain the same – namely 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, quinolones including fluoroquinolones and polymyxins, including colistin.

Category C ‘Caution’ is new, and signifies an elevated risk. Antibiotics in this category should only be used if there is no alternative lower-risk product available in Category D.

Category D ‘Prudence’ replaces category 1 as the lowest-risk group, but nonetheless advises all products should be used with prudence.

For more guidance on which products are HP-CIAs / Category B and should be used only as last resort on-farm, please refer to the table below or download the interactive HP CIA product list for food-producing animals updated 10 February 2020.

Product Name Route of administration Active Ingredient Ingredient Class Cattle Sheep Pigs Chickens Turkeys
Actionis Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Advocin Injection Danofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Baytril Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Baytril Oral Solution Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Boflox Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Cefavex Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Cefenil Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Ceffect Injection Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Ceffect Intramammary Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Cefimam Intramammary Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Cefokel Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Ceftiocyl Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Ceftiosan Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Cemay Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Cephaguard Intramammary Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Cevaxel Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Cobactan Injection Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Cobactan Intramammary Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Coldostin Oral Solution Colistin Polymyxin
Colfive Oral Solution Colistin Polymyxin
Colibird Oral Solution Colistin Polymyxin
Coliplus Oral Solution Colistin Polymyxin
Coliscour Oral Solution Colistin Polymyxin
Colistin APSA In Feed Colistin Polymyxin
Curacef Duo Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Eficur Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Enrocare Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Enrodexil Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Enrotron Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Enrotron Oral Solution Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Enrox Max Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Enroxil Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Enroxil Oral Solution Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Excenel Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Fenoflox Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Forcyl Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Hidrocol Oral Solution Colistin Polymyxin
Kelacyl Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Lanflox Oral Solution Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbiflox Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbim Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbocare Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbocyl Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbocyl Bolus Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbonor Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbosyva Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Marbox Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Masterflox Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Naxcel Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Norotril Max Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Pathocef Intramammary Cefoperazone Third Gen Ceph
Pathozone Intramammary Cefoperazone Third Gen Ceph
Plenix Intramammary Cefquinome Third Gen Ceph
Powerflox Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Qivitan Injection Cefquinome Fourth gen ceph
Quiflor Injection Marbofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Quinoflox Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Quinoflox Oral Solution Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Readycef Injection Ceftiofur Third Gen Ceph
Spectron Oral Solution Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Unisol Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
Valemas Injection Enrofloxacin Fluoroquinolone
RUMA Guidelines

Antimicrobials

Antimicrobial is the general term for any compound used for treatment or prevention of infections with a direct action on micro-organisms.

Antimicrobials include a wide range of compounds, such as anti-bacterials, anti-virals, anti-fungals and antiprotozoals. However, despite generally using the broader term antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the UK Government, the European Union, the World Health Organization (WHO) and The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are primarily concerned about the efficacy of antibiotics to treat humans and whether the use of antibiotics in animals increases the risk of untreatable resistant bacterial infections in humans. For this reason, this section focuses on antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a micro-organism to grow or survive in the presence of an antibiotic at levels that are usually sufficient to inhibit or kill microorganisms of the same species. Antibiotic resistance is important to human and animal health because, as the UK’s former Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, said in her annual report published in March 2013: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to modern health and we face a future without cures for infection if antibiotics are not used responsibly”.

In May 2016 the ‘Review Of Antimicrobial Resistance’ chaired by Lord Jim O’Neill was published. This has had a significant influence on the UK Government approach to AMR as a One Health issue. RUMA welcomed the review when it was published – and the subsequent Government response later that year – by setting up a Targets Task Force. This harnessed the expertise of a leading farmer and veterinary surgeon from each sector, alongside the leadership and facilitation of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Food Standards Agency, Red Tractor assurance, the British Veterinary Association and the National Office for Animal Health, to identify the current position in terms of antibiotic use in each sector, and determine meaningful targets for the future.

This section of the website hosts a set of guidelines and useful information on antibiotic stewardship and responsible use.

 

 

 

RUMA Guidelines

FSA surveillance report finding the mcr-1 gene in imported meat

An antibiotic resistance surveillance report from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), published in November 2018, found that although levels of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in UK retail meat remain low, there was an anomaly in the form of an mcr-1 gene found in the imported (non-UK) beef sample, which was reported as likely to be a one-off incident.

RUMA Guidelines

Publication of new WHO guidelines 7 November 2017

The WHO Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals published November 2017 are largely consistent with UK farming’s direction of travel. A clear strategy in the UK has produced rapid reductions in sales of antibiotics for food-producing animals and significant falls in sales of highest priority antibiotics, meaning a major government target has been exceeded two years early. A demanding set of targets for each of the key livestock sectors will ensure momentum continues.

RUMA Guidelines

Completion of antibiotic treatment courses

RUMA’s independent Scientific Group has urged caution over an article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) (26 July 2017), which concludes there is little evidence that failing to complete a prescribed antibiotic course in human medicine contributes to antibiotic resistance.

The Scientific Group has advised farming and veterinary communities to continue following current prescription guidelines and completing courses of animal treatments until more research is carried out.

RUMA Guidelines

FSA review of MRSA risk, published 28 February 2018

RUMA has welcomed the outcome of a risk assessment from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) examining the risk associated with the preparation, handling or consumption of foodstuffs which may be contaminated with MRSA, in particular Livestock-Associated (LA) MRSA. It concludes the risk is very low and based on this the FSA’s current advice remains unchanged, i.e. that raw food should be stored appropriately, handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to ensure any harmful bacteria present are destroyed.

RUMA Guidelines

‘Antibiotic-free’ labelling

Recent moves to label produce “Antibiotic-Free”, “Reared Without Antibiotics”, “No Antibiotics Ever” or similar have led RUMA to review its position as stated in June 2016, that it does not support the marketing of any meat or milk on the basis of such claims. Following this review, RUMA is re-stating its position that while it welcomes efforts to minimise antibiotic use through improved health and welfare, it does not support the use of these claims for marketing.

RUMA Guidelines

The preventive use of antibiotics in farm animals (prophylaxis)

RUMA sets out definitions and a matrix review of antibiotic use in animals showing how antibiotics can be used responsibly in animals to cure, control and, in exceptional circumstances, prevent disease. (April 2013)

RUMA Guidelines

Feeding waste milk to calves

RUMA has issued a new position on feeding calves waste milk from cows treated with antibiotics. It says: “Waste milk (excluding colostrum*) from cows under the statutory withdrawal period for antibiotics should not be fed to youngstock. Based on current evidence it is recommended that a practical solution for on-farm disposal is to dispose of waste milk in the slurry pit. RUMA encourages further research into disposal options to identify practical alternatives and to gain a better understanding of any potential environmental interactions associated with disposal via this route.”

RUMA Guidelines

Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals – general guidance

Information Note on Antibiotic Resistance and the Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals

RUMA’s briefing paper aims to:

  1. Explain antibiotic resistance and why it matters to human and animal health
  2. Set out why and how antibiotics are used in UK farms
  3. Identify the risks to public health from use of antibiotics in farming
  4. Explain the responsible use of antibiotics in farming
  5. Identify the changes in legislative controls (for antibiotic use in veterinary medicines and feed additives) that RUMA believes are appropriate and proportionate to manage the limited risk of antibiotic use in farm animals leading to clinical treatment problems in humans
RUMA Guidelines

Responsible Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle Production

All cattle farmers must be totally committed to producing safe food. They have a duty and responsibility to safeguard the health and welfare of animals on their farm, and should manage their farm to reduce the risk of disease challenge and, therefore, the need to use antibiotics and other medicines.

Cattle farmers should draw up, implement and regularly review an appropriate herd health plan that outlines routine preventive treatments (e.g. biosecurity, vaccination and worming programmes etc.) and disease control policy, in association with the attending veterinary surgeon.

RUMA Guidelines

Responsible Use of Antimicrobials in Dry Cow Management

All dairy farmers must be totally committed to producing safe food. Dairy farmers should together with the farm’s veterinary surgeon draw up, implement and regularly review a herd health plan that outlines routine preventive measures (e.g. milking machine testing, teat dip, parlour hygiene) and disease control policy, including dry cow therapy.

Dry Cow Management is an essential part of a dairy farmer’s routine to ensure the health and welfare of their cows. The dry cow period is a high risk time for acquisition of new bacterial infections. The current concerns over the use of antibiotics and possible implications with antimicrobial resistance mean it is timely to review the concept of treating all cows at the end of lactation to both prevent new infections and treat any existing infections.

RUMA Guidelines

Responsible Use of Antimicrobials in Sheep Production

The full version of the guidelines for Responsible use of Antimicrobials in sheep production are currently under revision.

RUMA guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials by sheep farmers have been designed to give easy-to-read guiding principles that can be used by sheep producers in the management of their flocks. Antimicrobials have, for decades, made a major contribution to continually improving sheep health and welfare. As such they are vital medicines for the treatment of bacterial infections in sheep.

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance as a serious problem in human medicine has prompted concerns that a crossover of resistance or resistant bacteria from livestock could take place into the human population (and vice versa). If this occurred the effectiveness of some medical antimicrobial treatments could be compromised.

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