FAO Calls for Responsible Use of Antibiotics

Food industry urged to stop antibiotic usage in animals

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"There are many reasons for that, including the specific disease challenges the United Kingdom industry faces and a long period of poor prices for pork which prevented much needed reinvestment on farms". "However, before the first meeting of the CODEX was held, the World Health Organization released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on 'low-quality evidence, ' and in some cases, 'very low-quality evidence'". It is about reducing excessive use and ensuring that diseases, both in humans and animals, receive the most appropriate treatment. Together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Animal Health Organization (OIE), FAO endorses this year's main message on the need to obtain guidance from a qualified health professional or veterinarian before using these drugs. It calls upon veterinarians to prevent unnecessary use of antibiotics especially those that are life saving among humans.

Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England, said: "Antibiotic resistance is not a distant threat, but is in fact one of the most unsafe global crises facing the modern world today". The report calls to attention the fact that in several countries almost 80 percent of the national antibiotic consumption is in the animal sector and the main aim of this is to promote growth in the animals.

According to the latest recommendations by the World Health Organization, there should be complete reduction in the use of all classes of medically important antibiotics in food producing healthy animals for the goal of heath and growth of the animals.

Antibiotics have always been routinely used in healthy animals to promote growth and prevent diseases.

The U.N. health agency is now calling for a complete halt to the use of antibiotics for growth promotion, and also for disease prevention, except in cases where disease has been detected in other animals in the same flock, herd or fish population. It said some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans had already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and there were very few promising options in the research pipeline.

"Scientific evidence demonstrates that overuse of antibiotics in animals can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance", says Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses at WHO. Antibiotics may be replaced in healthy animals by ways of improved vaccination, maintaining good hygiene and an improvement in animal husbandry practices. This has driven the movement of reduction of antibiotic use.

"The WHO previously requested that the standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals be updated through a transparent, consensus, science-based process of CODEX". Public health advocates have lauded the guidelines with experts saying it was a right step at the right time.

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