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Thai poultry industry looks to reduce antibiotic use

Thailand’s 2nd largest poultry supplier Betagro has announced plans to stop using antibiotics for the treatment of sick birds over the next 3 years.

The company, which produces 140 million birds a year, is currently still using antibiotics to treat chickens that fall sick in its factory farms, but says it plans to switch to natural alternatives.

Rutjawate Taharnklaew, vice president of Betagro’s research and development centre, told Nikkei Asian: “Over the next 3 years we will even stop using antibiotics for treatment of sick broilers.”

System to identify birds raised without antibiotics

The 50-year-old company currently uses a new sticker system that shows which birds have been raised without antibiotics.

The move follows an announcement last month by Thailand’s largest domestic poultry producer Charoen Pokphand Food that it would require all of its Thai-based and foreign business units to stop using antimicrobials that are “medically important for human medicine” to fatten poultry.

Using antibiotics for therapeutic use

While the company and its supply chain still plans to use antibiotics for therapeutic use, under strict veterinary guidelines, it was concerned about the issue of antimicrobial resistance.

Thailand’s consumer rights organisation, the Foundation for Consumers, has been conducting random inspections for antibiotic residues in chicken at fast food outlets.

It believes the randomised nature of the tests, coupled with international pressure, has led to the changes in the Thai poultry sector.

Reducing antibiotic usage

Pressure continues to grow on the sector to reduce antibiotic use – today marks the 2nd anniversary of International One Health Day – which aims to build the cultural necessary for a sea change in how animal and human health challenges are assessed and addressed.

The Royal Veterinary College has a range of international speakers taking part in a “One Health and Antimicrobial Resistance” seminar in London next week (8 November)

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