Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

New AMR surveillance report from FSA welcomed by RUMA

The Food Standards Agency has today released a surveillance study of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria isolated from chicken and pork on sale in the UK. Its aim is to address current gaps in evidence about the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in meat, and throw light on any links with antibiotics used to treat disease in farm animals.

Gwyn Jones, the Chair of the RUMA Alliance, has welcomed the report, saying: “Our focus is on reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use; while some livestock sectors have already achieved extraordinary results, there is definitely more to do in others. We believe the FSA’s new research will add to the bank of knowledge and help identify additional interventions that have the potential to reduce antimicrobial resistant bacteria in food, while safeguarding our continued access to antibiotics which treat disease and prevent pain or suffering in animals.”

He added: “It’s important to recognise that antibiotic resistance is a naturally-occurring phenomenon which happens as bacteria defend themselves against attack. Resistant bacteria can be found anywhere and everywhere, and any use of antibiotics in human or animal medicine can lead to the development of resistance. However, cutting antibiotic use doesn’t necessarily cut the levels of resistant bacteria found, and that is why this study will prove valuable over time as more datasets are added.

“In the meantime, we are pleased that the FSA’s advice is the risk presented by any antibiotic resistant bacteria in food remains very low, and that raw food should – as ever – be stored appropriately, handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to ensure any bacteria present, resistant or not, are destroyed.”

Conference to examine AMR in the food chain

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Christine Middlemiss will give the keynote address at the first national conference to examine global impacts of farm antibiotic use which is aimed at the food supply chain.

Covering the whole chain from ‘farm and vet to ‘fork’ but focusing specifically on the processing, retail and food service sectors, the ‘Antibiotic Stewardship in Animal Health and the Food Chain‘ conference will be held on 4 October at Resource for London (London, N7).

The conference, which is supported by RUMA, will show how good antibiotic stewardship is a key part of tackling the global epidemic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It will take a novel look at how strategies in different food supply chains are proving successful in ensuring the ongoing effectiveness of antibiotics that treat both animals and humans.

Speaking about the reason for bringing representatives of these sectors together at this event, Conference Director Scott Buckler said: “The global health crisis caused by antibiotic resistance should not be underestimated by any professional working in animal or food sectors.

“While progress has been made in some areas, the issue is still being ignored by too many organisations. We want to change that at this event, and highlight the urgent need to engage and act.

“As well as equipping attendees with tools, guidance, support and an understanding of the facts and priorities, we will be inspiring them with success stories. For example, poultry meat is one of the sectors that is sometimes criticised in the media – but in the UK they have reduced antibiotic use by 82% in six years. The British Poultry Council will be speaking at the event to clear up some of the myths and show how they brought their sector together in a ground-breaking antibiotic stewardship programme,” said Scott.

Also speaking at the event are Professor Guy Poppy from the Food Standards Agency, Professor Peter Borriello from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, and the Presidents of both the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the Society for Applied Microbiology, Philip Howard and Professor Mark Fielder.

Representatives from Marks and Spencer, Tesco, NOAH, Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare, University of Bristol, RUMA, Bella Moss Foundation, Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, and the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust will also be presenting.

RUMA is pleased to support this conference. For more information, and to book, go to Please note tickets are limited.

RUMA position on 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.”


Interim report shows UK farming’s progress towards antibiotic use targets

RUMA has released a half-year summary of the UK farming industry’s progress towards achieving 2020 targets for antibiotic use in each of eight different livestock sectors.

The targets, developed last year by the Targets Task Force and published in October 2017, include a number of numerical and qualitative goals towards reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use in UK farm animals.

RUMA’s secretary general Chris Lloyd says a comprehensive review of progress is due in November. “In the meantime this four-page summary provides a flavour of some of the activities being implemented to build on the successful reduction of 27% in overall farm antibiotic sales 2014-2016.”

He adds that it’s important to note each sector is very different – in terms of when they were first able to engage with the issue, disease pressure, number of producers and structure. “This is why some have already made significant changes and are ‘refining’ how and when antibiotics are used, while others are working on bigger issues of data, communication and usage ‘hotspots’,” says Mr Lloyd.

“But whatever the stage, all remain fully engaged on driving improvement and best practice to ensure the targets can be achieved by 2020.”

Download the half-year summary here RUMA Half Year Summary FINAL.

UK farming receives accolades at Antibiotic Guardian awards

The UK farming industry took the Antibiotic Guardian Awards by storm last night (27 June), in the third annual event which saw entries from as far afield as Malaysia and New Zealand competing for recognition of efforts to slow the onset of drug-resistant infections.

The evening started with Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies acknowledging the antibiotic stewardship achievements of the poultry meat and pig sectors within her opening speech; it ended with a tally of three wins and three ‘highly commended’ awards for farming.

The awards, run by mission-driven event organisers 4 All of Us on behalf of Public Health England (PHE), included an Agriculture and Food category for the first time this year. This was the focus for most farming entries, attracting 16 including retailers, universities, independent businesses and farmers, with nine scoring highly enough to be shortlisted by the judges.

In the end, top honours in this category went to University of Bristol Veterinary School’s ‘AMR Force’ programme which researches key topics around veterinary antimicrobial resistance. Alongside it, both the British Poultry Council and Wayland Farms were highly commended.

The wins continued in other categories which had, to date, been more healthcare-focused.

One such category, the Prescribing & Stewardship award, was hotly contested with 10 shortlisted entries including various NHS Trusts and a leading Malaysian hospital. While ABP/Blade Farming was highly commended, it was the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance who secured top spot with its ‘Target Task Force’ initiative, a cross-sector collaboration between vets and farmers to identify baseline antibiotic usage then set and agree specific targets for species as diverse as pigs, sheep, gamebirds and fish.

Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope from Antibiotic Guardian, who is also Lead Pharmacist of the Antimicrobial Resistance programme for PHE, singled out the Targets Task Force entry for particular comment. With the concept focusing on ‘bottom-up ownership’ of antibiotic stewardship rather than ‘top-down regulation’, Dr Ashiru-Oredope remarked that it had been a “clear unanimous winner, scoring very highly among the judges”.

RUMA bagged its second win of the evening in the Community Communications award for the #ColostrumIsGold campaign. Running throughout February, the campaign aimed to cut the need for antibiotics in neonatal and older animals through improved colostrum management at birth.

Amy Jackson, who collected the awards on behalf of RUMA, said it was a very proud moment to see the farming industry holding its own at such a prestigious ‘One Health’ event.

She said: “The last two years have been incredibly hard work for all involved in engaging the farming industry with the issue of antibiotic resistance. But tonight’s event, including the number of entries from farming and the quality of the shortlists, shows the progress we’ve made. The discussion really has moved on from ‘who is to blame’, to ‘what can we do?’, and the best practice on show will help us all take a truly One Health approach in the future.”

Other shortlisted entries in the Agriculture & Food category were Pyon Products, The Co-op, Tesco, MSD Animal Health, Waitrose Farming Partnership and University of Nottingham. Semex and ABP were also shortlisted in the Innovation category.


RUMA welcomes publishing of 2017 antibiotic usage data from the British poultry meat sector

RUMA has welcomed newly-published 2017 antibiotic usage figures for the poultry meat sector, which shows that a focus on excellence in health and welfare has brought use in turkeys below their antibiotic usage target of 50g/PCU and maintained use in chicken below its target of 25mg/PCU.

The figures, published by the British Poultry Council in its 2018 Antibiotic Stewardship Report also show:

  • a 82% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last six years (2012-2017)
  • a 91% reduction in the use of Fluoroquinolones (Critically Important Antibiotic for human health) in the last six years (2012-2017)
  • a 39.36% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in the last year (2016-2017)

Please visit the BPC website for more details


RUMA welcomes news that UK pig sector has halved antibiotic use in two years

RUMA has welcomed the news released today that the UK pig sector has halved its antibiotic use over two years. The latest reduction of 28 percent has brought use in the sector down to 131mg/PCU for 2017, hot on the heels of a 34 percent reduction in 2016.

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones has praised pig producers, vets and industry organisations for the huge strides they have made in achieving this goal, and says their perseverance and courage should be recognised.

Read the full announcement from AHDB here.



Guest schedule for RUMA’s ‘Drop-In Antibiotic Clinic’ at the Pig & Poultry Fair, 15-16 May

Note: the guest schedule for the Pig & Poultry Fair can be downloaded here Pig & Poultry Fair 2018 guest attendees on RUMA stand 290 (updated 10 May)

The final line-up of guests visiting RUMA’s ‘drop-in antibiotics clinic’ over the two days of the Pig and Poultry Fair (15-16 May at Stoneleigh) has been confirmed.

A dozen specialists across the pig, gamebird and poultry sectors will be spending between one and two hours each manning the ‘clinic’, which is located on the RASE stand (stand 290). They will be on hand to answer questions about responsible use of antibiotics and how vets and producers can reduce, refine or replace use.

Appearing both days are poultry vets Isy Manning from Poultry Health Services, and Christian Blake-Dyke from Hipra. Aaron Patel, head of public affairs from the British Egg Industry Council will also have slots both days, with technical director of the British Poultry Council Maire Burnett doing a stint on day one and Thomas Wornham, chair of the NFU Poultry Board, on day two.

For the pig sector, the National Pig Association’s (NPA’s) senior adviser Dr Georgina Crayford will have a spell on the stand on both days. The NPA’s president Richard Lister and Martin Smith, lead veterinary surgeon for British Quality Pigs/Tulip, will both be present on the first day, with Pig Veterinary Society senior vice president Mark White on the second.

Other specialists with wider remits will pop on to the stand at various times too. AHDB Pork’s veterinary lead Dr Mandy Nevel, who also heads up AHDB’s antibiotic resistance working group, and Professor Mark Fielder of Kingston University, current president of the Society for Microbiology, will both be on the stand on the second day.

Charlotte Wardle from Red Tractor will be present both days as well to help explain the new Red Tractor rules, and RUMA’s chair Gwyn Jones is manning the stand at lunchtime on the opening day.

Dr Crayford from NPA says: “One of the biggest tasks facing the pig sector over the next couple of years will be in reducing the burden of endemic disease, including PRRS and Streptococcus suis, in order to further reduce reliance on antimicrobials.

“Whilst this will be no mean feat, the increased collaboration between farmers and vets that will be necessary to achieve this, plus the innovations in pig health products that will arise, provide excellent opportunities to improve the health of the national pig herd.”

Red Tractor’s Charlotte Wardle adds: “Over the past 12 months, Red Tractor has taken significant steps to strengthen farm standards and ensure they are fit for purpose. Going forward, our biggest challenge is in ensuring that these standards are met 365 days of the year – hence the RUMA stand provides a great opportunity to talk to producers about protecting the integrity of the Red Tractor logo.”

Chair of RUMA, Gwyn Jones, says all livestock sectors have set themselves big challenges for antibiotic reduction/refinement and replacement over the next three years.

“While some are further ahead than others in terms of reductions, maintaining lower levels of antibiotic use can be just as hard as reducing in the first place, and that’s why events like the Pig and Poultry Fair offer a unique chance to air issues and share problems as well as successes,” he says.

“We hope people will feel they can pop on to the stand and chat with whichever expert is there at the time.”

Food report from pressure groups misleads on antibiotics

A new report compiled by a consortium of pressure groups (‘Principles for eating meat and dairy more sustainably’) [1] incorrectly links higher antibiotic use in farm animals with more efficient and productive (so called ‘intensive’) farming systems.

There is no representative data in the UK to substantiate this claim. In fact, a number of poultry, pig and dairy farms operating such systems in this country have provided individual data to show exceptionally low use of antibiotics. It is clear that quality of management remains the main determinant of the health and welfare of the animals on any farm, and therefore the level of antibiotic treatment required.

The report also fails to acknowledge that antibiotic use in UK farm animals is significantly lower than the EU average – by some 60% [2]. In fact, a 27% reduction in farm animal sales in the UK in the past two years [3] means use of antibiotics in farm animals is estimated to now be less than a third of all antibiotics used in this country [4]. This is despite UK farmers rearing and managing over a billion farm animals every year in a wide variety of systems.

UK sales for use in farm animals of colistin, an antibiotic of highest priority for use in human medicine, are also extremely low, recorded at just 2% of the EU recommended maximum. This is because colistin is tightly restricted and used only in cases of absolute last resort to prevent animal suffering.

Last year the UK livestock sectors set challenging targets to further reduce, refine and replace antibiotic use [5], which were welcomed and endorsed by the regulator, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, and the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officers. Requirements to submit usage data and implement reduction strategies with farm vets have also been integrated into Red Tractor assurance standards [6].

With strict withdrawal periods after treatment with antibiotics already ensuring that all UK meat and dairy products are ‘antibiotic-free’ when they enter the food chain, there is ample evidence of good – and further improving – stewardship of antibiotics across every farming system in the UK, irrespective of intensity.



[2] ECDC/EFSA/EMA second joint report on the integrated analysis of the consumption of antimicrobial agents and occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals: Joint Interagency Antimicrobial Consumption and Resistance Analysis (JIACRA) Report, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

[3] Record low for sales of antibiotics for use in animals, Defra & Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2016, VMD

[4] Estimation updated from figures provided in the One Health Report 2015 ( using 2013 data, where human use was calculated at 56% and animal including pets at 44%; use in pets was estimated around 8-9% of the total. Since then, sales to food producing animals fell 27% 2014-2016, and human prescriptions are likely to have reduced by 5% according to the ESPAUR 2017 report ( If use in pets has remained static, this indicates sales for farm animals are now less than a third of the total.

[5] RUMA Targets Task Force

[6] Responsible Use of Antibiotics on Red Tractor Farms; specific rules for pig producers


Former Chief Veterinary Officer joins RUMA Scientific Group

RUMA has announced that former Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens is joining its Independent Scientific Group. He will sit alongside other eminent researchers and scientists from the veterinary, medical and microbiological field, providing insight and recommendations to inform RUMA’s policy on the responsible use of medicines in farm animals.

Speaking of his decision to join the group, Professor Gibbens says he has been very impressed with recent progress made by the UK livestock sectors on reducing, refining or replacing use of antibiotics. But he says it is now time to look forward to the next steps, and how science can support further efforts to reduce on-farm antimicrobial use.

“The UK livestock sectors are to be congratulated for responding to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, especially in working with the Targets Task Force to set challenging targets for antibiotic use through to 2020,” he says.

“Delivering those targets is going to rest on the principle of rearing healthier, more resilient animals. This means that while antimicrobial resistance is an important threat, tackling it is also a significant opportunity to make long term sustainable changes which could raise UK farm animal health and welfare to a new level.”

He points out that a strong evidence base around antibiotic use, and health and welfare improvements for our farmed livestock, should be integral to the stated aspirations within the Government’s consultation ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit’.

“RUMA’s ongoing leadership in AMR mitigation through excellent animal husbandry in all production systems can help to differentiate UK produce and elevate its reputation post Brexit,” explains Professor Gibbens.

“But to achieve this, and other goals, we need sound science to underpin all the decisions we make. Sitting on the Independent Scientific Group is a great opportunity to do just that – use the knowledge and insight that I’ve been fortunate to acquire in over 30 years as a Government veterinary officer.”

Professor Gibbens qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1981 and worked in general practice before completing a Masters Degree in Tropical Veterinary Medicine at Edinburgh. After spells in Belize and Yemen providing government-led veterinary services, he returned to the UK as a Government Field Veterinary Officer in 1990. A succession of lead veterinary roles within Government followed, culminating in his appointment as Chief Veterinary officer in 2008, a role he retired from in February this year.

RUMA’s Independent Scientific Group, now comprises (alphabetically):

  • Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction at University of Bristol (deputised by Dr Kristen Reyher, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science at University of Bristol);
  • Dr Ian Brown, Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs;
  • Professor Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Kingston University;
  • Professor Nigel Gibbens, consultant with Itinerant Vets Ltd;
  • Mr Daniel Parker, avian expert for UK government, technical advisor to the British Poultry Council and lecturer at Cambridge University Veterinary School;
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, Technical Advisor in Microbiology & Antimicrobials, Elanco Animal Health;
  • Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs



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