HC Deb 08 September 2003 vol 410 cc282-3W
Mr. Hayes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her policy towards the use of antibiotics in animal feed. [128260]

Mr. Bradshaw

Antibiotics cannot be used in animal feed unless they are authorised either as veterinary medicinal products or as zootechnical feed additives (which are used as growth promoters).

The Government recognises the important role that authorised antibiotics play in maintaining animal health and welfare. However it takes very seriously the possibility of their contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria affecting humans. The Government has therefore developed a comprehensive strategy for maintaining the effectiveness of antimicrobial products and reducing the overall pool of antibiotic use in animals. A key element in this strategy is promoting the prudent use of authorised antibiotic medicines and feed additives in animal husbandry.

The Government is satisfied that the four feed additives authorised as antibiotic growth promoters are not related to any therapeutic antibiotics currently used in human or animal medicine. However it supports the phasing out of these products on a precautionary basis from 1 January 2006 under new EU legislation on Feed Additives coming into effect next year. The Government believes that this provides sufficient time for the industry to introduce new husbandry methods before the authorisations for antibiotic growth promoters are withdrawn. Defra is working closely with the industry's Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance in drawing up plans to assist industry to adjust to the loss of these products from January 2006.