14 June 1996

Human risk from feed antibiotics not assessed

NO research has been carried out into the effects of including antibiotics in livestock feed on human health, Lord Lucas, MAFFs spokesman in the Lords has claimed.

He was asked by cross bench peer Lord Hylton what research was being carried out, and in particular whether the inclusion of antibiotics in feed could increase the number of resistant organisms present in humans.

"No research has been conducted or is planned. However, the government takes very seriously the possibility of the development of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals as a result of the use of antibiotics in animal feed," said Lord Lucas.

The risk was carefully examined as part of the authorisations procedure and was kept under review by the veterinary products committee (VPC), he added.

"The VPCs policy has been that new antibiotics should not necessarily be precluded from therapeutic use in animals, but that their prophylactic use should be discouraged," said Lord Lucas.

A working party had been set up to assess the risks to humans from antibiotic-resistant organisms entering the food chain.

The need for action to protect public health would also be considered.