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.

Ionophores have some antibacterial action but they are not classified by the EU or UK authorities as antibiotics, and there is no evidence they create any cross-resistance issues with gram negative bacteria such as E coli or zoonotic pathogens such as campylobacter or salmonella. The British Poultry Council has more information on the use of ionophore coccidiostats on farms that produce poultry meat here.