RUMA Surprise and Disappointment at CMO’s Unprecedented Proposal to Kill Animals rather than Treat Them with Antibiotics

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, has proposed that badly infected animals should be slaughtered rather than treated with antibiotics.

The Mail article is focused on human antibiotic prescribing with just a small section on animal use. But this section also reports the CMO as claiming that antibiotic use in animals is a substantial source of antibiotic resistance in humans which is a dramatic change from her previous position and UK Government policy. Scientific evidence shows that the main source of resistant infections in people is the use of antibiotics in people.

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, said his members had expressed considerable surprise and grave disappointment at the CMO’s reported comments and RUMA is seeking a meeting with Dame Sally. The purpose of the meeting would be to review any scientific evidence she has to support her reported comment that animal use is a substantial source of resistance in humans and to seek clarification of her unprecedented proposal that sick animals should be slaughtered rather than treated. In particular, RUMA will ask how many animals the CMO thinks it is acceptable to slaughter rather than treat and whether her comments apply also to family pets. RUMA will also make it clear that treating sick animals is an essential way for farmers to ensure that they comply with animal welfare legislation.


  1. The Daily Mail article can be found at
  2. The section on animal use in the article says

    She also called for a cut in the use of antibiotics in farm animals, one of the biggest causes of resistance to the drugs.

    Controversially, she urged vets to slaughter sick animals rather than give them antibiotics to help them recover. She said: ‘I had a bit of a problem with some vets recently because I said, “Why don’t you just slaughter animals when they’re badly infected?” It seems to me much better because then they can’t transmit them [antibiotics].

    At the moment, if you eat a farmed salmon in America it has probably eaten its own weight in antibiotics.

  3. RUMA is an alliance of 23 organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process which aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines on farm. For further information please contact RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald (