British Poultry Council Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said:

“The British poultry meat sector’s drive for excellence in bird health and welfare has been delivering responsible use of antibiotics and safeguarding the efficacy of antibiotics across the supply chain. We’ve successfully reduced our antibiotic use by 82% in the last six years and have stopped all preventative treatments as well as the use of colistin. The highest priority antibiotics that are critically important for humans are used only as a ‘last resort’.

Ensuring good bird health and welfare is part of a farmer’s responsibility to alleviate pain and suffering and to preserve the health and welfare of birds under their care. The very way pet owners proactively treat their dogs and cats with wormers to control worms, poultry meat farmers use ionophores to control Coccidiosis (an intestinal parasitic disease) in their birds to alleviate pain and suffering.

Ionophores are mainly used to control coccidiosis, maintain intestinal integrity, avoid pain and suffering and help deliver good bird health and welfare. If coccidiosis is not controlled, the parasite can cause enteritis in birds leading to intestinal inflammation, reduced absorptive capacity, increased podo-dermatitis, increased mortality and could require the use of medically important antibiotics.  This parasite is extremely common in all poultry worldwide and can compromise bird health and welfare, regardless of how they are kept, including indoor-reared, free-range, and organic.

The increase in the use of ionophores is in line with the growth in poultry production in the last four years. Ionophores are animal-only antimicrobials that are not classified as veterinary medicinal products and their usage is not linked to reduction in antibiotics. The World Health Organisation, the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), and the European Surveillance Programme of Veterinary Antibiotics have confirmed that ionophores have no impact to human health. The European Food Safety Agency has also scrutinised the use of ionophores and published opinions have deemed them safe to be used as a feed additive with no risk to humans.”