UK poultry meat sector still hitting antibiotic use targets

RUMA has welcomed the publication of the British Poultry Council’s ‘Antibiotics Stewardship Report 2020’ containing details of 2019 antibiotic usage data in the UK poultry meat sector.

The sector was again able to deliver well within its responsible antibiotic use targets of 25 mg/kg for broilers and 50 mg/kg for turkeys, achieving 17.5 mg/kg and 42 mg/kg respectively. Data for 2019 showed no preventative use of antibiotics and further significant reductions in use of highest priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIAs). Use in ducks remained low at 1.7 mg/kg.

Although the last two years have seen small increases in usage in the sector, the 19.7 tonnes of antibiotics used in 2019 represents an overall reduction of 76% since 2012. Over the same period there has been a 97.3% reduction in use of HP-CIAs.

Cat McLaughlin, chair of RUMA, said the sector had shown considerable leadership in antibiotic use data collection and stewardship over the past eight years. Its challenge now, as with a number of other sectors, is to protect the welfare of the animals in the face of disease challenges while maintaining its strong record of responsible antibiotic stewardship.

“It’s particularly positive that despite these challenges, the sector has continued its downward pressure on HP-CIA use. Fluoroquinolone use has fallen 97% since 2012, which means the risk of cross-resistance developing to ciprofloxacin, an important last-resort antibiotic in humans, is being minimised.

“While not classified as HP-CIAs by the European Medicines Agency, macrolides are important first line antibiotics used to treat children with Campylobacter, hence it is very positive to see use of these has fallen 96% since 2012 as well.”

The report can be downloaded from the British Poultry Council website. The poultry meat sector will, alongside the other UK farm sectors, be releasing its new antibiotic use targets for 2021-2024 towards the end of this year.