UK farm animal use of antibiotics is comparatively low against many of its European neighbours, according to a European report on antibiotic use and occurrence of resistance in bacteria.
But the report also highlights the potential for more responsible use in both humans and animals to reduce antibiotic resistance, according to Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance.
The report by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), indicates that in 2014, UK antibiotic use for humans was about average within Europe (Europe: 124mg/kg; UK: 129mg/kg) but 60 per cent below average in animals (Europe: 152mg/kg; UK: 62mg/kg).
John FitzGerald, secretary general of RUMA, welcomed the report, but said the situation was likely to change rapidly as awareness grew of the contribution farming can make in a One Health approach to antibiotic stewardship.
He said: “The UK’s most recent Veterinary Antimicrobials Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) report on 2015 sales data saw a 10 per cent drop in antibiotics sales into food-producing animals compared with the previous year.
“This, alongside significant reported reductions in usage in the poultry and pig sectors – released via the recent British Poultry Council Stewardship Report and AHDB’s e-Medicine Book data – will have changed the picture again.”