AIC praises industry's latest progress on tackling antimicrobial resistance
Official figures showing UK sales of veterinary antibiotics at an all-time low have been welcomed by the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) as the latest demonstration of the industry's commitment to antibiotic stewardship.
The latest Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) data, which was published yesterday (1 November), shows a near 10% fall in sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals in the last year, at 25.7 mg/kg - a reduction of almost 60% since 2014.
The UK Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) Report for 2022 found that sales of the highest-priority antibiotics, which are deemed to be of critical importance to human health (HP-CIAs), are at extremely low levels.
The report also highlights a positive picture of decreasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) across several key outcome indicators, driven by the large reductions in overall antibiotic use.
Visit the GOV.UK website to view the report.
James McCulloch, AIC's Head of Animal Feed, said: "AIC welcomes this report as further evidence of the industry's sustained progress and commitment to playing its part in helping the livestock sector meet future veterinary antibiotics targets and tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
"These figures show that the UK is a world leader when it comes to the responsible use of antibiotics. The UK remains one of the lowest prescribers of veterinary antibiotics and has achieved some of the greatest reductions in resistance in Europe."
In 2022, the AMR surveillance programme was expanded, to include the monitoring of three new bacterial species, giving a more complete picture of AMR in animals and its relevance to people.
The VMD's Chief Executive Officer, Abi Seager, said: "Antibiotic stewardship is embedded in UK farming and responsible use is essential to maintaining our high animal health and welfare standards.
"I’m encouraged that our vets and farmers continue to make reductions in their antibiotic prescribing and use.
"We are continuing to expand monitoring to build upon our current knowledge and control the spread of AMR to strengthen the UK’s biosecurity."
The latest Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) Targets Task Force 2 (TTF2) progress report was also released on 1 November.
The report summarises a third year of progress against antibiotic use targets identified by the UK livestock industry since 2020.
As the leading trade association for the agri-supply industry which represents animal feed businesses, AIC is a member of RUMA.
RUMA Chair, Catherine McLaughlin, said: “UK agriculture is proud of its work to date on tackling AMR and, as we look ahead to the future, we will naturally start to see a shift in focus from reduction to maintenance of the targets.
"It is important to highlight that zero use of antibiotics, be that across animal or human health, is neither viable nor responsible. Antibiotics remain a key medicine in the treatment ‘toolbox’ to help people and animals recover.
"By only using antibiotics when truly needed, UK agriculture continues to play its role in tackling AMR and protecting the efficacy of these important medicines long into the future.”
View the report on the RUMA website.