Medical experts call for ban on preventative use of antibiotics in groups of healthy animals

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2019 report: "Swann song" for routine antibiotic use, 50 years on?

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Read our report 'Real farming solutions to antibiotic misuse: what supermarkets and farmers must do'

Report - Real farming solutions to antibiotic misuse

"The medical community must call for EU-wide measures to save antibiotics for use in unhealthy humans, not healthy animals" - Royal College of Physicians

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2017 supermarket antibiotic policies: Alliance assessment shows some more committed than others

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Fluoroquinolone resistance in Campylobacter from retail chicken

Farm antibiotics: the issue

New report: "Swann song" for routine antibiotic use, 50 years on?


“Fifty years ago, the Swann committee gave in to pressure from vested interests and failed to recommend an end to preventive mass medication, even though it knew the practice was unjustifiable and the cause of a deadly outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella. Half a century later, still no one has come forward with a valid reason for allowing this misuse of antibiotics to continue.” - Cóilín Nunan, ASOA

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Change farming and save our antibiotics | Cóilín Nunan | TEDxExeter


Imagine a global health crisis which causes more deaths than cancer. That’s the future we face unless we take action now to stop the rise of antibiotic resistance. Drawing on decades of academic research, Cóilín Nunan, Scientific Advisor for the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, shares the action we need to take now.

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Antibiotics and Trade: Our Position


The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics has nine key recommendations to safeguard human and animal health pertaining to trade and antibiotics when the UK leaves the EU.

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COMING SOON: Supermarket assessment 2019


Our second assessment of UK supermarket antibiotic policies finds more action needed to end routine antibiotic use in supply chains. Ten of the UK's largest supermarkets were surveyed on a number of criteria with results showing big differences across the sector in commitments to ensure fully responsible use of antibiotics.

Antibiotics Timeline:

Fleming warns of the overuse of antibiotics

1945

Alexander Fleming warned the world about the dangers of antibiotic resistance in his 1945 noble speech.

Antibiotics discovered to be growth promoting

1949

Scientists working for a US pharmaceutical company discover that adding low doses of certain antibiotics to animal feed makes them grow faster.

Growth promoters legalised in UK

1953

UK legalises adding antibiotics to animal feed for growth promotion despite Ministry of Health officials warning it would lead to antibiotic resistance. No veterinary prescription was required for growth promoters.

Swann Committee Established

1968

UK government establishes Swann Committee after serious outbreaks of multi-drug resistant salmonella were linked to the use of antibiotics in intensively farmed calves.

Swann Report Published

1969

The Swann report is published and recommends banning the use of medically important antibiotics as growth promoters. However no recommendation is made to ban preventative mass medication, despite the committee saying such use could not be justified.

Restrictions on Growth Promoters

1971

Use of penicillin and tetracyclines are banned as growth promoters.

Swann report goes unheeded

The 1970's

Antibiotics such as tylosin and avoparcin, which were in same antibiotic families as medically important antibiotics are licensed for growth promotion, despite Swann recommendations.

Lamming Committee

1992

the Expert Group on Animal Feedingstuffs (the Lamming Committee) recommended that prophylactic use should be "reconsidered"; the Veterinary Products Committee accordingly decided to "discourage" it, but no action is taken.

Antibiotics in Poultry

1993

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics licensed for use in poultry in the UK despite evidence this was likely to lead to resistance in human Campylobacter infections.

Penicillin and Tetracyclines

1999

New data on farm antibiotic use confirms that banning penicillin and tetracyclines as growth promoters has failed. Total farm use of antibiotics in the tetracycline and penicillin class of antibiotics has increased by 600 per cent since Swann.

EU Bans Growth Promoters

2006

The EU ban on all antibiotic growth promoters comes into force. Still no action against preventative mass medication.

Soil Association Investigates

2006

Soil Association reveals critically important modern cephalosporins are being used routinely off-label in UK chicken industry in breach of EU Directive.

MRSA found in pigs

2007

Soil Association reveals emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA in European and North American pig industries.

Alliance is founded

2009

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is established, founded by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain.

Critically Important Antibiotics

2014

Total veterinary use of antibiotics classified as high-priority critically important in human medicine (fluoroquinolones and modern cephalosporins) reaches an all-time high.

Government Review

2015

Government-commissioned Review on Antimicrobial Resistance calls for major, worldwide cuts in farm antibiotic use.

Reistance to Colistin found

2015

The Alliance reveals that resistance to the antibiotic colistin, used as a last-resort in human medicine, has been found in British livestock, retail meat and human infections.

MRSA found in supermarket pork

2016

Studies carried out by Cambridge University scientists for the Alliance finds MRSA in British-produced supermarket pork and highly antibiotic-resistant ESBL E. coli in British-produced supermarket chicken and pork.

RUMA

2016

The industry Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture alliance establishes a Targets Taskforce with the objective of setting targets for reducing farm antibiotic use.

Voluntary ban in poultry

2016

British Poultry Council announces a voluntary ban on using antibiotics for prophylaxis in poultry and on using fluoroquinolone antibiotics in chickens.

UN Declaration

2016

Representatives from 193 countries sign a declaration on antimicrobial resistance at the United Nations General Assembly.

2017

Alliance wins health award

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is awarded the second prize for the European Health Award for NGOs fighting antimicrobial resistance.

WHO Recommendations

2017

WHO recommends that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.

2017 Supermarket Report

2017

The alliance publishes report into antibiotic use in supermarket supply chains which shows that five of eight supermarkets no longer permit suppliers to use antibiotics for routine disease prevention.

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Supermarket Progress

2017

Soon after Alliance supermarket report, Asda, Co-op, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose publish their antibiotic-usage data for fresh and frozen meat and dairy in line with Alliance demands.

EU Bans routine farm antibiotic use

2018

EU decides to ban all routine farm antibiotic use including preventative group treatments from 28 January 2022.

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UK does not follow the EU's lead

2018

The British Government refuses to commit to banning preventative group treatments.

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Letter to Government

2018

Ten leading medical organisations and publications write to the UK Government calling on it to commit unequivocally to banning preventative antibiotic group treatments in livestock

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UK antibiotic use falls

2019

Government data shows that UK farm antibiotic use has fallen by 50% in recent years. Pig and poultry industry cut their antibiotic use by 60% and 80% respectively.

Five Year Action Plan

2019

New government 5-year Action Plan 2019-2024 on antibiotic resistance does not mention banning group prophylaxis.

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