Antibiotics use in livestock: Time to act - BEUC position paper published

BEUC has set out its position on how to fight antibiotic resistance, one of today’s most challenging public health issues.

Background: Antibiotics are commonly used to treat a wide variety of infectious diseases, from throat infections to bronchitis.

However, misuse and overuse of these drugs in both human and veterinary medicine make them inefficient and spur antibiotic resistance. Consequently, bacteria become resistant to treatments.

The inadequate use of antibiotics in animals used for food production contributes greatly to this phenomenon. This has major ramifications knowing that in both the EU and the US more antibiotics are used for livestock than in human medicine.

Here are BEUC’s main recommendations for EU decision-makers:

  • Restrict the use of antibiotics in animals used for food production to therapeutic use, better regulate herd treatment and phase out pre-emptive therapy on healthy animals.
  • Make individual treatment the norm and herd treatment the exception.
  • Improve animal health through good management and hygiene practices.
  • Allow veterinarians to only prescribe antibiotics, not sell them.
  • Phase out critically important antibiotics when other treatment options are available for livestock.
  • Restrict ‘off-label uses’. Drugs should mainly treat the infection and the people they are prescribed for.
  • Set clear reduction targets. Denmark and Norway have done so, and they work.
  • Test meat products for presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Require reliable sales and consumption data from Member States.

Our full position is here.