Watchdog ponders antibiotic ban

2 November 2000

Watchdog ponders antibiotic ban

By FWi staff

THE Food Standards Agency is to consider banning the use of an antibiotic in poultry production over fears it causes human drugs to become less effective.

Agency officials have confirmed that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate is investigating the use of baytril, used by many poultry producers.

The investigation comes as the USA considers banning a class of antibiotics used in poultry because of fears they reduce the effectiveness of drugs in humans.

The family of drugs known as fluoroquinolones are given in the water supply to chickens to prevent and treat e.coli and pasturella infections.

They are also used for treating serious infections in humans, including food poisoning caused by campylobacter.

But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes their use in poultry production could damage human health.

In a document proposing a ban on the drugs, the FDA says: “The use of fluoroquinolones causes the development of fluoroquinolone-resistant campylobacter in poultry.”

It adds: “This resistant campylobacter is transferred to humans. Resistant campylobacter infections are a human health hazard.”

The FDA says it plans to withdraw approval for the use of the drug enroflaxin in poultry on the grounds that new evidence shows it is not safe.

Fluoroquinolones were first licensed for use in animals in the USA in 1995.

By 1998 it had been discovered that campylobacter was becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs, the report says.

The proposal was welcomed by the Soil Association, the organic food and farming organisation which has long opposed the prophylactic use of antibiotics.

Richard Young, association policy advisor, said: “We have known for years that intensive livestock production is unacceptable for animal welfare.

“This provides yet more evidence it is also unacceptable for human health.”

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