Don’t sacrifice antibiotics to boost marketing, poultry body urges

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

AAAP said it was committed to finding new technology to cut routine antibiotic use
AAAP said it was committed to finding new technology to cut routine antibiotic use

Related tags Meat Marketing Livestock Poultry

The use of antibiotics in intensive poultry farming should not be cut but minimised and carefully planned to safeguard animal welfare, the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) has said.

The AAAP is an international group responsible for advancing best-practice science that enhances the productivity of poultry around the world. In a press statement the AAAP said antibiotic use should remain a “viable option… even when marketing and consumer preference dictate otherwise​”.

This move comes as a number of poultry producers — including GNP Company​ — have cut antibiotics use to reinforce a marketing strategy to promote antibiotic-free meat.

The AAAP has expressed concern about the growing trend of retailers and restaurants to only offer poultry from flocks raised without antibiotics, referencing its white paper on Poultry Welfare and Antibiotic Use.

Public health crisis

This practice may result in situations where farmers are reluctant to allow treatment of flocks in order to maintain their ‘antibiotic free’ status,​” the AAAP said in a statement.

Veterinarians need the ability to make proper treatment plans for animal health and animal welfare, including the use of antibiotics when warranted, as part of their professional commitment and ethical obligation.​”

Antibiotics are used in farming to treat a range of infections in livestock but, increasingly, the routine, prophylactic use of antibiotics has become widespread in intensive farming. If this continues, health officials warn it could create a public health crisis in which antibiotics used to treat human infections no longer work.

Stewardship ‘important’

This has led to a group of 55 investors who control shares in some of the world’s largest food companies calling on restaurants to stop sourcing meat from supplies that use antibiotics.

However, the AAAP said antibiotics remain “an important tool for poultry veterinarians to protect the health and wellbeing of flocks and should not be sacrificed in the name of [the] marketing of an antibiotic-free product.​”

The association did add that proper stewardship was “important to the veterinarians, food companies, regulators and other stakeholders who make decisions about sustainable livestock and food production​”.

AAAP also said it would continue to support “research and evaluate new technology and production systems that will eliminate routine use of antibiotics.​”

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