Poultry: Antibiotics

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 25th January 2018.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential health risks to humans of medicating poultry with fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) assesses the risk of acquiring Antimicrobial Resistance-related infections through the consumption and handling of contaminated poultry meat to be very low. Thorough cooking (and pasteurisation) will destroy bacteria present on food, including those that are resistant to some antibiotics. The FSA promotes the importance that good hygiene practices are in place to minimise the risk of infection and spread of AMR bacteria when handling raw meat.

The use of antibiotics is one of the drivers for selection of resistance. Through its antibiotic stewardship programme, the UK meat poultry industry has significantly reduced the use of antibiotics including those of critical importance to public health. The British Poultry Council, who represents 90% of the meat poultry sector, reported a 72% reduction in the use of fluoroquinolones between 2012 and 2016.

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