Antibiotics use falling in the UK


Reducing antibiotics use is part of plans to combat drug-resistant diseases.

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recorded record low sales of antibiotics for use in livestock last year and more ambitious targets are on the way. 

According to a new government report to be published this Friday, sales of veterinary antibiotics relative to the UK’s food-producing animal population dropped by 27% between 2014 and 2016.

While there were 62mg of antibiotics sold per kg of livestock biomass in 2014, this fell to 45mg/kg last year. According to DEFRA, this surpasses the 50mg/kg target set for the industry.

“The fact we have overtaken our target two years ahead of schedule demonstrates our commitment to preventing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and shows our approach is working,” said DEFRA Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner. “Now we must continue making progress and set our sights on reducing use even further.”

Drug-resistant superbugs

The industry group Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) is expected to announce new targets later on Friday to reduce antibiotics use in the future.

Efforts to reduce antibiotics use in humans and animals are part of a plan to tackle anti-microbial resistance and avoid the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs.

The latest EU-wide comparison of antibiotics use is for 2014 and shows the UK to be among the most moderate users, with less than half the European average rate.