30 April 2015
2 Sisters Food Group today committed to removing from their poultry production all antibiotics defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being of highest priority critically important to human health. This move will help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotic use for people.
Antibiotics are used in poultry production to treat and prevent infectious diseases and safeguard poultry health and welfare. There is a risk that antibiotic use in animal agriculture contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can spread to humans and make standard treatments of infectious diseases ineffective.
For the past two years, 2 Sisters Food Group has not used three of the antibiotic classes the WHO identified as highest priority critically important to human medicine - the third and fourth generation cephalosporins or fluroquinolones.
Today’s announcement also excludes the antibiotic class macrolides from all of its broiler production.
2 Sisters Food Group also announced today that it will establish two trial farms, fully supervised by company veterinary surgeons and independent agricultural experts.
The farms will spearhead practical research to help develop and roll out on-farm techniques, and health and management practices that will reduce the industry’s need for antibiotics in the future.
Ranjit Singh, CEO of 2 Sisters Food Group, said: “As a responsible and forward thinking organisation, we are keen to lead on this increasingly important issue and take a stand which we feel is pragmatic and sensible.
“We are committed to ensure that we use all medicines, including antibiotics, in a responsible manner across the farms that supply us, and lead the industry in delivering a strategy which protects both animal and human interests, now and in the future.”
In drawing up the new policy, the business has reviewed expert opinion from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and The European Medicines Authority (EMA) and worked with the Food Animal Initiative (FAI).
Michelle Waterman, 2 Sisters’ Group Agriculture Director, added: “Our plan is also about replacing antibiotic use with other interventions wherever possible. This includes use of vaccinations and changes to husbandry and biosecurity techniques. Our strategy is continually refined through the use of trial locations to see what works best.”
Ruth Layton, Director of FAI, said: “The programme of work we are undertaking with 2 Sisters Food Group approaches the human health challenge of emerging antimicrobial resistance with the thoughtful, urgent and practical actions it requires. These steps show how our ‘replace, reduce, refine’ framework, adopted to great effect in other sectors, can guide company behavior that will safeguard human and animal health, while protecting the efficacy of lifesaving antibiotics.”
About the 3Rs framework to address antimicrobial resistance
The actions announced today mark the roll-out of 2 Sisters Food Group’s comprehensive “Antibiotics policy and strategy.” As recommended by an Antimicrobial Resistance Roundtable of veterinarians, food scientists, farmers and representatives from the food and animal health industries hosted by FAI Farms Ltd., the policy adopts the “3Rs” framework of Replace, Reduce, Refine, to help drive responsible use of antimicrobials.
Links to resources
WHO (2011) Critically important antimicrobials for human medicine. 3rd Revision. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77376/1/9789241504485_eng.pdf
Currently there are products licensed for use in food producing animals in three of the four groups featured on the WHO’s current “highest priority critically important” list: – Quinolones – 3rd and 4th generation Cephalosporins – Macrolides. Glycopeptide - the fourth group on the WHO’s current “highest priority critically important” - was widely used as a growth promoter (avoparcin) in Europe until it was banned in 1997 and it was never licensed for use in the US.