Code of practice for antibiotic use on beef farms launched

The Code of Good Practice regarding the responsible use of antimicrobials on suckler and beef farms has been launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

The launch coincides with the start of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which runs from November 18 to November 24.

Launching the code, the minister stressed the importance of tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

He emphasised that the practical strategies outlined in the published document “highlight some of the important actions that beef and suckler farmers can take to reduce their overall use of antibiotics and to improve their herd health”.

Minister McConalogue welcomed the timely launch today (Wednesday, November 18) of the Code on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, which is an annual event, and a means of highlighting the continued global concern in relation to AMR.

“AMR remains a challenge not just for human health, but also animal health, food security and our shared environment,” he added.

“In order to successfully address AMR the primary goal of the agri-food sector must be to reduce antibiotic usage through maintaining the highest possible standards in animal health.

“I would urge our stakeholders to take part in the upcoming Animal Health Awareness Week during which all stakeholders will gain information on how to safeguard their herds and flocks, and the national animal health status of our animals.

“It is important to understand that we all have a role to play, and a vested interest in addressing the development and spread of AMR by informing ourselves and following best practice guidance,” the minister concluded.

What is AMR?

AMR is resistance of a microorganism to a drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by that microorganism.

Resistant microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) are able to withstand attack by antimicrobial drugs, such as antibacterial drugs (e.g. antibiotics), antifungals, antivirals, and antimalarials, so that standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist, increasing the risk of spread to others.

Antibiotic resistance refers specifically to the resistance to antibiotics that occurs in common bacteria that cause infections. Antimicrobial resistance is a broader term, encompassing resistance to drugs to treat infections caused by other microbes as well.