Industry steps up to antibiotic resistance challenge

The UK 5-year AMR Strategy was launched on 10 September 2013. RUMA was among the groups that welcomed and supported the strategy.

RUMA published an action plan, based on the detailed actions in Annex B of the Strategy, in April 2014. This plan sets out the actions that RUMA and/or its members will take.

This is the executive summary of the second progress update of the plan, setting out the highlights of the work done across the UK livestock sector in the 28 months since the plan was first published. Full details of all the work being done is included in the plan. The actions set out in the plan include:

  1. Antibiotic Stewardship
  • The BPC’s Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme set up in 2011 developed a mechanism of collecting usage data from the poultry meat sector on an annual basis. The Scheme’s key focus is responsible use and, when possible, a reduction in use of those antibiotics considered to be of most highly critical importance by the WHO. Measures are in place to ensure that most highly critical antibiotics are only permitted if they are the sole therapeutic option to alleviate bird pain and suffering. In 2012, the BPC introduced a voluntary ban on the use of third and fourth generation cephalosporins and a commitment to reduce the use of fluoroquinolones. The BPC recognised the increasing importance of colistin as an antibiotic of last resort for human medicine and stopped its use in September 2015. In 2016 the Scheme made a further commitment to stop the prophylactic use of fluoroquinolones in day old chickens.
  • NPA launched the pig industry Antibiotic Stewardship Programme in May 2016. The programme aims to capture and collate antibiotic use data recorded on pig farms, benchmark antibiotic use against farms of a similar type, extend education in effective disease control strategies, reduce antibiotic use, consistent with responsible human and food-animal medicine, promote PVS prescribing principles to strictly limit the use of antibiotics of critical importance to human health and appoint Stewardship Commissars to continually review industry’s use of antimicrobials and champion initiatives.
  1. Reducing the need to use antibiotics
  • Red Tractor’s revised Farm Assurance Standards, effective from October 2014, introduced a more review focused approach to health planning to identify potential disease and biosecurity issues to minimise the spread of disease within the farm and between other farms. Through compliance with assurance scheme standards on biosecurity, animal health and welfare (including segregation pens for sick animals) and responsible use of medicines more than 85% of the poultry meat industry, 95% of dairy farms and 92% of pork production are working to biosecurity and husbandry practices to minimise disease occurrence. Red Tractor has begun a review of the new standards which will be updated again in October 2017.
  • NPA and AHDB Pork have produced biosecurity Standard Operating Procedures for the entire pig production chain, from feed deliveries and visitors on farm to fallen stock collection and lorry washing at abattoirs in an attempt to raise biosecurity standards on farm. AHDB Pork released their new BioRisk biohazard perception tool in May 2016 to increase awareness among pig farm staff of the biosecurity risks that exist and to help them identify the risks on their own farms in order to be able to mitigate future risk.
  • NPA has developed import protocols with the UK pig breeding companies which outline testing required for imported stock and semen in order to prevent the entry of diseases of concern into the UK including LA-MRSA. Red Tractor members must now prove that they are abiding by the protocol in order to gain the derogation required to import any live animals or semen into the UK.
  1. Collecting Antibiotic Use Data
  • The BPC’s Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme collects antibiotic usage data covering 90% of UK poultry meat production across chicken (meat), turkeys and ducks. It was the first sector to share its data with the VMD and the 2012-2015 data was included in their annual VARRS report. Over the period 2012-2015, the total amount of antibiotics used by the poultry meat sector decreased by 43% while production increased by 5% over the same period. The sector saw a 27% reduction in 2015, from 63.46 tonnes in 2014 to 46.17 tonnes in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015 the Scheme reduced its total antibiotic use in chickens by 39%.
  • AHDB-Pork launched an electronic medicines book (eMB) for recording and benchmarking antimicrobial and other medicine use in April 2016. By October, the equivalent of more than a quarter of the finishing herd had submitted antibiotic use data to the eMB, covering 535 sites and over 5.6 million pigs. Efforts are being made to get data from the large corporate pig businesses onto the system, which will significantly increase coverage.
  • A CHAWG industry workshop in January 2016 considered how to collect antimicrobial use data in cattle and CHAWG is consulting the cattle sectors and vets on the options available.
  1. Knowledge Transfer