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EU could face further restrictions on antibiotic use in farm animals

Further restrictions on the use of antibiotics in farm animals may be underway for the EU, a development that could be especially problematic for poultry producers.

In a draft legislation that would update an EU law on veterinary medicine, the European Parliament called for a ban on the preventive treatment of animals, which they believe will counter antibiotic resistance, according to a report on worldpoultry.net.

“We wish to prohibit the purely preventive use of antibiotics, restrict collective treatment to very specific cases, prohibit the veterinary use of antibiotics that are critically important for human medicine and put an end to online sales,” said French Member of Parliament (MEP) Françoise Grossetête.

The MEPs insisted that veterinary medicines must not be used to improve livestock performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry. Any prophylactic use of antimicrobials — where they are used as a preventive measure in the absence of clinical signs of infection — should be limited to single animals and must be fully justified by a veterinarian.

Effect on poultry industry

This is likely to be especially problematic for the poultry sector, where whole flocks are often treated as a strategic measure to avoid having to use stronger medication later on.

Pekka Pesonen, of Copa-Cogeca, a European farming and agriculture cooperative, said, “Banning the use of certain antibiotics could lead to animal-welfare problems, as in some places or for some species these are the only authorized antibiotics.”

He also believes banning the prophylactic use of antibiotics was not justified.

“We realize that there needs to be specific requirements for food-producing animals compared to pets, but the correct use of prophylaxis is a good veterinary practice,” Pesonen said.

“We also have concerns about the online ban on antibiotics and prescription-only veterinary medicines. Online sales offer some advantages in terms of availability and the cost of medicines.”

 

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