British Poultry Council chairman John Reed said responsible use of antibiotics was ‘so much more than reduction targets’.
British poultry farmers are continuing to lead the way on antibiotic use following a further 40 per cent drop in the last year.
It takes reductions in the total use of antibiotics in poultry meat since 2012 to 82 per cent, with a 91 per cent fall in the use of fluoroquinolones; those considered critically important for human health.
The sector has also stopped the use of Colistin, banned the use of third and fourth generation Cephalosporins and restricted the use of antibiotics classified as highest priority critically important by the World Health Organisation.
The figures were published in the British Poultry Council’s 2018 Antibiotic Stewardship Report which championed the industry for ‘delivering excellence in bird health and welfare’ by monitoring and reviewing on-farm management practices and ensuring responsible use of antibiotics through the supply chain.
BPC chairman John Reed said responsible use of antibiotics was ‘so much more than reduction targets’.
“Our farmers and veterinarians need antibiotics in their toolbox to preserve the health and welfare of our birds,” he said.
“Zero use is neither ethical nor sustainable as it goes against farmers’ duty to alleviate pain and suffering.”
The move takes the sector to below the Government-approved sector specific targets developed by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance’s Target Task Force (TTF), which currently stands at 25mg/PCU for chickens and 50mg/PCU for turkeys.
According to Mr Reed, while poultry adds up to half of the meat eaten in the UK, the industry uses less than 9.7 per cent of the total antibiotics licensed for food producing animals.
“We stand committed to ensuring that antibiotic therapies are used with good animal husbandry techniques, ‘only when necessary’ and under the direction of a veterinarian, to protect the health and welfare of birds under our care,” he added.
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said the BPC members had made ‘remarkable achievements’, helping to ‘protect and preserve the efficacy of antibiotics going forward’.