New deal will curb use of antibiotics on farms
Plans to curb the use of antibiotics on farms, so as to keep resistant bacteria out of human foods, were informally agreed by MEPs and ministers this week.
Under the plans, veterinary medicines must not under any circumstances serve to improve performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry, says the new law.
It would limit the prophylactic use of antimicrobials (i.e. as a preventive measure, in the absence of clinical signs of infection) to single animals, only when fully justified by a veterinarian in cases where there is a high risk of infection with severe consequences.
Metaphylactic use (i.e. treating a group of animals when one shows signs of infection) should happen only where no appropriate alternative exists, and after diagnosis and justification from a veterinarian.
To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the law would empower the European Commission to designate antimicrobials which are to be reserved for human treatment.
It comes as the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) recently warned that bacteria in humans, food and animals continue to show resistance to the most widely-used antimicrobials.
Scientists say that resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antimicrobial that is critically important for treating human infections, is very high in Campylobacter, thus reducing the options for effective treatment of severe foodborne infections.
Meanwhile, multi-drug resistant Salmonella bacteria continues to spread across Europe.