Response to publishing of antibiotic use data by retailers – December 2017

In response to the recent publishing of farm animal antibiotic usage data by several retailers, John FitzGerald, Secretary General of RUMA, says:

“We welcome the supportive approach many retailers have adopted with their farmers for a number of years over responsible use of antibiotics, and understand why some may wish to publish their own datasets. However, it remains important that the use of antibiotics in farm animals does not become a competitive issue. Above all, we must retain the ability to treat animals, or animal health and welfare will be compromised.

“The best way of achieving long term sustainable reductions while safeguarding animal health and welfare – as well as food safety – is through a collaborative, pre-competitive approach, where best practice is shared and farmers are supported. We are therefore pleased at the British Retail Consortium’s confirmation that UK retailers remain committed to working together to ensure sustained and consistent improvements.

“Collecting and collating robust data from on-farm records at an industry-wide level is the bigger prize. It is already happening in the poultry meat and pig sectors, and will be piloted in the cattle sectors next year through AHDB’s electronic Medicine Book system. We look forward to the insight this level of data collection will offer all of UK farming, and the opportunities it will create to build on the significant reductions in antibiotic use already achieved.”