Further decline in antibiotic usage is warmly welcomed

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The Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum (NIPBF) has welcomed the publication of the latest official figures which show that the UK pig industry – including the sector here in Northern Ireland - has reduced antibiotic usage by a further 16% in 2018.

This significant level of reduction has also been noted by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

The industry target is to reach 99mg per Population Corrected Unit (PCU) by 2020.

According to the latest data taken from the electronic medicines book (eMB), which represents 89 per cent of pigs slaughtered in the UK, antibiotic usage on pig farms dropped from 131mg/PCU to 110mg/PCU within 12 months.

Critically Important Antibiotics (CIAs) have also been reduced, falling to 0.06mg/PCU of which, Colistin, represents only 0.004mg/PCU.

Deirdre McIvor, Chief Executive of NI Pork and Bacon Forum, commented: “Three continuous years of the successful reduction of antibiotic usage is a tremendous achievement. We and our members are delighted with the results.

“There’s no doubt that it is the exceptional standards for quality from our producers here in Northern Ireland, and in Great Britain, that have led to where we are today.

“The NI Pork and Bacon Forum has been integral to this shared ambition since its very inception, and so to see a further 16% drop in 2018, since the year before, is representative of the quality and benefits of Assured Origin pork.”

Ulster Farmers’ Union pork and bacon policy committee chairman, Glen Cuddy said: “The latest reduction in antibiotic usage is a testament to the hard work of pig producers and vets, demonstrating their commitment to the fight against antibiotic resistance.

“The pig industry has set an ambitious target and time frame. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done. However, with 2020 fast approaching it is vital that pig producers and their vets work to ensure further reductions don’t negatively impact on animal welfare.”

Deirdre McIvor continued: “NI Pork and Bacon Forum has again affirmed our commitment to reduce antibiotic usage at no detriment to the welfare and health of our livestock. It is vitally important that we address Antimicrobial resistance in order to ensure that critical medicines are there to treat disease when required.”