In a landmark decision, the International Poultry Council (IPC) has adopted a position statement on the responsible and efficacious use of antimicrobials in global poultry production.
The statement sets a science-based course for the global poultry industry to follow that safeguards the efficacy of antimicrobial usage while at the same time addressing the issues of resistance, bird welfare, food safety and consumer concerns.
“The IPC acknowledges that 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,” IPC president Jim Sumner said. “We also should educate the public about these practices.”
Sumner said the statement encourages the global poultry sector to be proactive in its engagement with stakeholders and “to implement practices that advance the ‘One Health’ objectives that lead to healthy people, healthy animals and a healthy planet.”
Members of IPC began discussions on a position statement on antimicrobials at the organization’s second semester 2016 meeting in Portugal, and concluded work on the document at its most recent meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, in April.
“Stewardship in antimicrobial use is essential,” said Ricardo Santin of ABPA, Brazil’s animal protein association. “As a sector, we must understand and control why and when we use antimicrobials, which antimicrobials we use, how much antimicrobial we use and transparently communicate our actions.”
Santin said the industry must set its priorities for antimicrobial use in order to strike a balance between reducing the need for these compounds and providing the best possible care for its animals.
IPC said it also recognizes the ethical obligation of farmers and their veterinarians to protect the health and welfare of the birds in their care, which may include the responsible use of antimicrobials. The council emphasized that the poultry supply chain globally has a responsibility to ensure that it minimizes the industry’s potential contribution to the development of antimicrobial resistance.
“We discussed and strongly recommend that all antimicrobials will only be used in compliance with national authorizations and that those antimicrobials critically important for human medicine should be used for therapeutic purposes only and under a supervising veterinarian’s diagnosis and oversight,” said Prasert Anuchiracheeva, secretary general of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Assn.
“We do not yet have all the answers as to the extent by which the use of antimicrobials in livestock production contribute to antimicrobial resistance, but we know that the IPC has a key leadership role in understanding and minimizing the poultry sector's impact,” said Paul Lopez, president of a.v.e.c., the European poultry association. "IPC members have a responsibility to produce safe, wholesome and nutritious food, and within that is a duty to the best health and welfare of their birds.”
Sumner said IPC and its members will actively engage with intergovernmental organizations, governments and stakeholders to help shape public policy to address antimicrobial resistance.
Sumner added that the council looks forward to working with the World Organization for Animal Health, the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the Codex Alimentarius Commission "to ensure that we collaboratively address the need to use all antimicrobials responsibly and only when needed.”