Insight to the point of view of animal health authorities, food producers and retailers.
The point of view of animal health authorities in one EU country: education and training are very important, aside the regulations, in order to reduce antibiotic use.
In the EU, total antibiotic use on average has decreased significantly over the past 5 years. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics has been forbidden since 2006. Residues are almost always below the regulatory limits but are often still present in minute quantities. The risk that we are exposed to AR genes through food or water is under investigation. Education and training are the only way to make the fight against AMR more successful.
G. Loris Alborali
Director of the Brescia Diagnostic Section of the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Lombardy and Emilia Romagna (Italy)
The consumption of antibiotics in livestock has decreased in recent years in Italy and in several other countries, sometimes drastically. How was this possible? What were all those tons of extra drugs used for before? Are there consumption data by type of animal available? Has a portion of the treatments and, therefore, of consumption become “submerged”?
Until a few years ago, antimicrobials were used both for the treatment of pathologies and for the prophylaxis of the most common diseases in breeding and often represented a way to circumvent necessary structural and manage improvements. The strategy to reduce the consumption of antimicrobials began at different times in various EU countries. Denmark was the first country to start a national plan, followed by other countries such as Holland. In Italy, this strategy was started after 2010, particularly in the poultry sector, but today it is also felt in other supply chains. However, the reduction in consumption is real because the veterinary surgeon and the breeder have understood that when priority is given to biosafety and welfare, not only are animals healthy and producing better but costs are also reduced. I believe that justifying the improvement in antibiotic practices with an increase in black market sales is very reductive and diminishes the real change that our animal husbandry is making.
Is it really possible to limit the use of drugs to therapeutic purposes only? If, however, a preventive use is legal (that is, group antibiotic administration without illness in the group because of fear that a pathology will arise), what distinguishes this use from auxinic use? The type of antibiotic or the dosage?
First of all, we must reiterate that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in our country has been prohibited since 2006 and that the checks carried out every year under the National Residual Plan say that the positivity to antimicrobials is very low. Limiting the use of drugs to therapeutic purposes today is possible and numerous farms are working in this direction, obtaining very good results. It is necessary to start setting the selective dry treatment in dairy cows and to reduce the mass treatments of pigs in favor of treating individual animals.
Antibiotic residues in meat and milk are almost always under the Maximum Limits permitted by law (MRL). However, some of these MRLs were set in the 1990s in a somewhat hasty manner. Is there a risk that “sub-MRL” concentrations could be harmful, if on
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