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Dutch making progress to decrease antibiotic use

The use of antibiotics in the livestock industry in the Netherlands must have gone down by 50 percent in 2013. This was the target, set by the Dutch ministry of agriculture in 2009. The major reason was, and still is, the increased incidence of dangerous multi resistant bacteria like ESBL in animal products such as poultry meat.

As a result, a comprehensive set of measures were taken through close cooperation between the industry and various public bodies and it seems that the industry, particularly the broiler business is well on track.

Current results were presented last week by Erik de Jonge of the Dutch Product Board for poultry and eggs, during a symposium of the Dutch branch of WPSA. According to De Jonge, a decrease of 28% has been achieved in 2011 which was also confirmed by Ms. Christianne Bruschke, Chief Veterinary Officer of the ministry of agriculture.

There is an urgent need of achieving this target, said Ms. Simone Herzberger, vice-president quality assurance and product sustainability of Royal Ahold. “Experts focus on hazards, consumers focus on fears”, she added. “Food safety may never be at risk”.

Apart from the current programme to further decrease the use of antibiotics, also new methods may come into practice in order to combat bacterial resistance. According to Professor Richard Ducatelle of the University in Gent in Belgium, it is very likely that some bacteria are supposed to not reside in the intestinal tract of birds. He therefore strongly supports taking measures to restore healthy intestinal bacterial life, thus also minimising the incidence of dangerous bacteria.

Another means of tackling harmful bacteria is by using phages. This was the message of Mark Offerhaus, CEO of Micreos. This company with offices in the Netherlands and Switzerland, is using phages to interfere and break into the lifecycle of bacteria. As a result, these bacteria will discontinue multiplying. Amongst their various phage products, Micreos is supplying a specific product such as to combat Listeria. This product has been approved by the FDA in the USA.

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