Antibiotics Timeline:

Fleming warns of the overuse of antibiotics


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

Antibiotics discovered to be growth promoting


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Soil Association Investigates


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


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

Alliance is founded


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

Critically Important Antibiotics


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


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

Reistance to Colistin found


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


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.



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


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

UN Declaration


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


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


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

2017 Supermarket Report


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.

Read More

Supermarket Progress


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


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

Read More

UK does not follow the EU's lead


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

Read More

Letter to Government


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

Read more

UK antibiotic use falls


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


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

Read More