HL Deb 06 June 1996 vol 572 c143WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What research has been done or is planned on the effects of including antibiotics in the food fed to animals, poultry and fish; and in particular whether such practices could increase the number of resistant organisms present in humans.

Lord Lucas

No research has been conducted or is planned. However, the Government take very seriously the possibility of the development of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals as a result of the use of antibiotics in animal feed. This is carefully examined as part of the safety assessment of applications for authorisations for antimicrobial products and is kept under review by the independent scientific Veterinary Products Committee (VPC). The committee has consistently followed the principles established in the Report of the Joint Committee on the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine (the Swann Report of 1969). The VPC's policy has been that new antibiotics should not necessarily be precluded from therapeutic use in animals but that their prophylactic use should be discouraged. Against this background, the committee continues to consider each case on its merits. The committee reviewed and confirmed its policy last year. In doing so, it recognised that many antibiotics are effective against both human and animal disease and a number licensed in human medicine are also authorised for therapeutic use in animals.

The independent Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) has set up a working group to assess the risks to humans from antibiotic resistant micro-organisms entering the food chain and to consider the need for any action to protect public health. The working group expects to report to the main committee by the end of 1997.