Farmers, vets and other animal health professionals are signing up to new guidelines on the responsible on-farm use of animal medicines.
The industry-wide initiative was unveiled at the Animal and Plant Health Association (Apha) annual conference — Healthy Animals, Premium Food; How can Ireland deliver? — in Killenard, Co Laois, yesterday.
One objective detailed in Apha’s accompanying booklet — Safe Use Of Livestock Medicines For Cattle And Sheep Farms — is to guard against medicine use in animals leading to a rise in superbugs in humans, with hospitals in the EU investing considerable energy into identifying a source of these bugs.
Association chairman Philip Bergin said the involvement of all sectors of the food chain in agreeing and promoting agreed protocols on the use of medicines would enhance Ireland’s reputation as a producer of safe, quality food.
The alliance on the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture has been in existence since 1998 in Britain. Alliance secretary John Fitzgerald told the association’s conference that the alliance was established against the backdrop of emerging problems of antibiotic resistance in human medicine and the appearance of superbugs such as MRSA.
“All elements in the food chain are involved in the alliance , including producers, animal health specialists, food retailers, civil servants and human medicine experts,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
“The alliance provides agreed guidelines to farmers, vets and other professionals on the responsible use of medicines with the aim of maximising public confidence in animal welfare and food safety and quality.
“When it comes to animal health our mantra for farmers and vets is to use as little animal medicines as possible and as much as necessary.”
He said the alliance is working on a position paper for the EU Commission on the responsible use of medicines and on changes in EU animal medicines legislation.
“I believe the establishment of a similar alliance in Ireland would be good for animal welfare, consumer safety and farmers’ pockets,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
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