Position Papers

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

‘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

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

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

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

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

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.

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