European Parliament adopts new EU law to cut farm antimicrobial use

Today, the plenary of the European Parliament adopted a long-awaited law which will restrict the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals and thus help to fight antimicrobial resistance.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) welcomes that under the new rules, the routine preventive use of antimicrobials will in principle be prohibited. Use of antimicrobials in healthy animals will be allowed solely on an exceptional basis, for instance after surgery, and in individual animals only. Yet, when some animals in a group are sick, it will still be permitted to treat the entire group with antimicrobials to avoid the spread of an infection or disease. Unfortunately, the law does not state that this practice too should be exceptional.

The Commission will draw up a list of antimicrobials to be reserved for treatment of humans only. The updated legislation also imposes new obligations on Member States for the collection of data on both the sales and the use of antimicrobials per animal species, however those are only to be phased-in very gradually.

Finally, third country producers exporting animal products to the EU will have to respect the ban on antimicrobial use for growth promotion and the new restrictions on those antimicrobials which are vital in human medicine. It is expected the new law will enter into force in early 2019



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