Canadian chicken farmers address antimicrobial resistance

11-06-2012 | | |

Certain antibiotics currently used in livestock and poultry production could someday be limited to use in human medicine, according to the chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Due to concerns about resistance and the potential impact on human health, CFC and other animal agriculture organisations are examining ways of reducing the use of antimicrobial agents in food production, especially those that are also used in human medicine.

“What we’re doing is coming up with a comprehensive strategy on antimicrobial use in our industry,” says CFC Chair David Janzen. “Then we want to get broad industry support on what we can do to control it better, and also look at reduction or alternative strategies.”

CFC, along with the other national poultry and feed organizations, have published a plan for reducing the use of antibiotics, while balancing concerns about animal health.  

“It outlines some of the prevalent antibiotics that are used in our industry. We want to develop something that will not harm or put our flocks at risk, but our concern of course is for human health,” he explains.

He notes Canadian chicken farmers already make sure they’re using antibiotics judiciously. Most are only administered after being prescribed by a veterinarian. Some of the more common antibiotics are also not used in human medicine, and have no human health importance.

That being said, Janzen says certain antibiotics could be limited to human medicine in the future.

“We have the issue of antimicrobial resistance in the human population, and wherever there is a commonality of antibiotics used in the chicken sector and in human health, that’s a huge concern to us. We’re definitely targeting certain drugs in that category,” he says.