European Parliament approves plan to prevent unnecessary use of antibiotics in farm animals


On 10 March, the European Parliament approved draft legislation which will ban precautionary antibiotic treatment of farm animals.

MEPs say:

Veterinary medicines must not under any circumstances serve to improve performance or compensate for poor animal husbandry 

Instead research into new medicines should be promoted. According to the draft legislation, antimicrobials should only be used when fully justified by a veterinarian and not as a preventive measure in the absence of clinical signs of infection to single animals.

To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the revised legislation would empower the European Commission to designate those antimicrobials that should be reserved for human medicine.

MEP Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR), lead on the report, said:

“Today’s vote is a big step forward for animal health and the fight against antibiotic resistance. With these new rules, we can better circumscribe and control the use of antibiotics in farm animals and thus reduce the risk that potential resistances will emerge”.

Formal negotiations with the Council and Commission can now start, after which the legislation will enter into force.

Last year, ECDC, EFSA and the EMA published their first joint report on the integrated analysis of the consumption of antimicrobial agents and occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals.