The International Poultry Council (IPC) has taken the rare decision to publish a united position statement on the responsible use of on-farm antibiotics against a background of mounting pressure on the industry.
The position statement is this: the IPC will follow a science-based course to encourage industry to reduce the use of antimicrobials while also ensuring that, when antibiotics are used, it is in compliance with guidelines set by international organisations.
IPC said the statement set out “safeguards” for the efficacy of antimicrobial usage, while also recognising issues of resistance, animal welfare, food safety and consumer concerns.
IPC president James Sumner, also president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said the position statement encouraged industry to implement practices that advanced the much-touted industry phrase ‘one objective’ – a goal that leads to healthy people, animals and planet.
“The IPC acknowledges antimicrobial resistance is a global concern and that the poultry industry must adopt management practices that reduce the use of those antimicrobials for which resistance could pose the greatest global risk,” Sumner said in a press statement.
The IPC had been began working on a position statement pertaining to antimicrobial usage since a group meeting in Portugal last year. The document was completed after the IPC met in the 16th-century port town of Cartagena, Columbia, in April.
IPC vice-president Ricardo Santin of the under-fire Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA) said antimicrobial stewardship was “essential”.
“As a sector, we must understand and control why and when we use antimicrobials, which antimicrobials we use, how many antimicrobials we use, and transparently communicate our actions.”
While recognising that farmers and veterinarians have an obligation to keep animals healthy, the IPC said it wanted the entire supply chain to minimise any contribution to fuelling antimicrobial resistance.
The IPC will work with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission on policy recommendations.