Adequate and accurate data collection and analysis of antibiotics use and resistance is key for the farming sector. This is according to Peter Oostenback of Global Public Policy Animal Health Division of  MSD Animal Health who was speaking at Bord Bia’s meat seminar in Dublin last Friday.

Courtesy of his presentation, Oostenback spoke on the responsible use of antibiotics in food animal production. He said the treatment of specific bacterial infections in both human and veterinary medicine may become more complicated due to increased resistance and this needs to be explored more.

“The debate on the use of antibiotics in food animal production is part of the bigger debate on the role, interpretation and impact of food animal production nationally, European and global.”

He stressed responsbile use was the way forward. “As little as possible and as much as needed.” Husbandry practices, like housing, ventilation, hygiene and nutrition was key to this, he added.

Promoting responsible use of medicines in animals, he cited the work of Epruma, a leading multi-stakerholder platform, which has outlined best practice frameworks for the use of antimicrobial in food-producing animals.

He also referred to Denmark, which was the first EU country to develop an antimicrobials database, which showed an increase of six per cent of defined animal daily doses in 2012 on 2011 figures.

In addition, the animal health expert said antibiotics remain an essential component of the veterinary toolbox and he called for Ireland to introduce a comprehensive one-stop shop database.

“Sharing experiences and best practices is an effective and efficient approach, but requires harmonisation of data collection and analysis to be optimal.

“Interpretation of data on use and linking to antimicrobials can be done only with harmonised definitions and caution.

“The common goal should be to protect public health, animal health and welfare and to ensure that antibiotics are effective now and in the future for relevant indications in all species,” he concluded.