Archive for the ‘antimicrobials position papers’ Category

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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‘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.

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Response to BBC Countryfile story on ionophores

The BBC’s misrepresentation of ionophore coccidiostats in the media on 31 March 2019 is disappointing, not least because of the important and entirely legitimate role coccidiostats play in protecting animals at risk of infection from coccidian protozoa parasites. Before ionophores are legally marketed for commercial use in food-producing animals, companies have to demonstrate to the regulator (EFSA) that each product is safe and effective in the target animal species, safe for humans consuming edible products from treated animals, and safe for the environment.

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RUMA confirms position on ‘antibiotic-free’ labelling

RUMA is committed to ensuring antibiotics are used in animal production only when necessary, and when used that the right antibiotics are given in the most effective way possible to cure animal disease while minimising the risk of antibiotic resistance developing.

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.

These are the reasons:

  • Labelling products as “Antibiotic-Free” has the potential to mislead the consumer by implying that meat or milk not marketed as such contains antibiotics, which is not the case, as there are strict rules governing the administration of antibiotics to farm animals in the UK. These rules are enforced by Government surveillance to guarantee that in meat or milk sold for consumption, antibiotics are not present above a harmless trace level set as a maximum residue limit.
  • If claims of  “Antibiotic-Free”, “Reared Without Antibiotics”, “No Antibiotics Ever” or similar mean the animals from which the milk or meat is derived have not been given antibiotics in their lifetime, this presents the risk of driving unintended consequences. The main concern is causing unnecessary suffering and associated welfare issues by withholding treatment from sick animals in order to comply with the label, when in fact the animals should be treated. Equally, if sick animals are taken out of that supply chain and appropriately treated, then the wider system of production does still include antibiotic use, which may not be clear to consumers.
  • Lastly, RUMA would like to clarify that while the terms “Antibiotic-Free”, “Reared Without Antibiotics”, “No Antibiotics Ever” or similar may be used to differentiate produce in some countries where use of antibiotics for growth promotion is still permitted, it is not relevant nor helpful in the EU where this practice has been banned since 2006.

 

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