Model for success: Commission hails Dutch policy on antibiotics

'The findings highlight the progress that can be achieved in a relatively short time period to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals, and associated AMR, while safeguarding animal health and welfare and the economic viability of producers.' © istock/Alex Raths

An EU Commission report has praised the antibiotic reduction efforts in livestock production in the Netherlands.

That country’s livestock sector has seen a very significant decrease in the use of such drugs in farming - a 58.4% decrease in sales from 2009 to 2015, found the Commission.

DG Santé said aspects of the measures put in place in the Netherlands aimed at encouraging the prudent use of antimicrobials in farmed animals could inform antibiotic reduction campaigns in other EU countries’ agricultural sectors.

The report followed a DG Santé fact-finding mission on the judicious use of antimicrobials in Dutch livestock production in September 2016.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

“Since prudent use policies have been enacted, there has been a clear and associated decrease seen in levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in broilers, veal calves and pigs in the Netherlands,” noted the review.

The policies were set up as a public-private partnership, with such cooperation leading to the setting up of an independent body, the Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Authority, to analyse data on the use of antimicrobials at farm level and to set benchmarks.

DG Santé said the measures that supported rapid antibiotic reduction levels in farming in the Netherlands included transparency in recording and benchmarking antibiotic use on farms, benchmarking of the prescribing patterns of veterinarians, strengthening the role of veterinarians, promoting animal health initiatives and the prudent use in line with official reduction targets. 

In terms of medicated feed best practice, a risk assessment was performed in 2010 on the carry-over of medicines into non-medicated feed and stricter rules on this issue were implemented. 

Those rules resulted in some feed companies and farmer groups voluntarily phasing out the production and use of premixes and medicated feed. In any case, such use in the Netherlands is relatively low with the tendency to administer antimicrobials via drinking water or in powders for top-dressing of feed, noted the Commission.

“The findings highlight the progress that can be achieved in a relatively short time period to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals, and associated antimicrobial resistance, while safeguarding animal health and welfare, the economic viability of producers and avoiding an excessively legislative approach," concluded DG Santé.

Background

In 2009, a Dutch working committee involving farmers, veterinarians, feed companies, slaughterhouses and the animal health service developed a master plan to address the issue of use of antimicrobials in the sector.

Their plan was based on the principles of private quality systems for farmers and veterinarians and included aspects such as creating awareness, monitoring and benchmarking of farmers and veterinarians and setting goals instead of formal regulation.

  • A ‘positive list’ of veterinary medicines to be used was also developed.
  • The plan comprised 10 specific action points:
  • Measuring the use of antibiotics by ADD/year;
  • Performing a baseline assessment for AMR;
  • Promoting the more widespread use of existing knowledge and best practices;
  • Transferring veterinary information;
  • Receiving feedback from slaughterhouses on deviations detected at slaughter;
  • Extra surveillance for farmers who were not members of the quality system;
  • No use of medicated feed;
  • Monitoring illegal use of antibiotics on farms and slaughterhouses;
  • Mandatory registration of veterinarians for the scheme and in the private quality system for veterinarians;
  • Developing a communication plan for stakeholders and society.

The four major sectors - pigs, broilers, dairy cows, veal calves - have been asked to develop their own proposals for antibiotic use reduction plans up until 2020.

Pig plan

There is a new master plan for the pig sector. The Netherlands is home to around 5,000 pig farms with a combined population of more than 12 million pigs, according to Rabobank data. 

The strategy is to try and further improve pig health by improving farm management through a traffic light system, rewarding low antibiotic use (green) farms by market rewards and lighter regulation and providing extra assistance to high using (red) farms.

That sector also is also investigating tools that measure the effect of lower antibiotic use on AMR as well as a system to monitor for diseases on farms while continuously researching animal nutrition strategies that could reduce the need for antimicrobial use.

The Commission's review can be read here.

Related News

FEFAC, reacting, stressed the need for an improved regulatory framework on authorization of feed additives, feed labelling and claims on nutritional benefits for maintaining a good animal health status, in order to facilitate transfer of nutritional knowledge and innovative solutions to the farm level. © istock

EU action plan to fight antimicrobial resistance

© iStock/buhanovskiy

US: SouthFresh Aquaculture earns first BAP certification for catfish feed production

© istock

EU interagency report urges research into link between antibiotics and resistance

Antibiotic usage on Dutch chicken farms set to be used as yardstick to gauge feed quality

Antibiotic usage on Dutch chicken farms set to be used as yardstick to gauge feed quality

Dutch feed maker could face sanction over banned antibiotic in veal supply chain

Dutch feed maker could face sanction over banned antibiotic in veal supply chain

Dutch veal and pig farms shut down as criminal probe starts into illegal antibiotic discovery in feed

Dutch veal and pig farms shut down as criminal probe starts into illegal antibiotic discovery in feed

© istock/ jetstream4wd

Greater monitoring of antibiotic resistance in retail meat needed: UK campaigners

Nutreco fine tuning gut health research to support prudent use of antibiotics

Nutreco fine tuning gut health research to support prudent use of antibiotics

© iStock/phototechno

Cargill aiming to model the effect of antibiotics

UK politicians call for action to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock

UK politicians call for action to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock

German livestock producers must report antibiotic usage under new regulation

German livestock producers must report antibiotic usage under new regulation

Professor Leo den Hartog, R&D Director for Nutreco’s animal nutrition division, Trouw Nutrition: 'This report is yet another call to action to substantially reduce the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. We know that if we achieve significant reductions, we actually revert antimicrobial resistance. Reduction strategies pay off.' © istock

AMR report prompts further calls to curb use of antibiotics in farming

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.