Urgent to curb overuse of antibiotics in animals

Updated 2017-11-13 10:02:02 China Daily
Regulations on the use of antibiotics in animal feed are not strictly enforced in China, and the country has no maximum residue limits for antibiotics detected in animal products such as meat and milk. (Tan Kaixing for China Daily)

Regulations on the use of antibiotics in animal feed are not strictly enforced in China, and the country has no maximum residue limits for antibiotics detected in animal products such as meat and milk. (Tan Kaixing for China Daily)

On Nov.7, the World Health Organization issued formal guidelines for the animal industries, which calls for food-animal producers to refrain from using antibiotics in healthy animals, so as to curb the rampancy of drug-resistant bacteria. Thepaper.cn comments:

The overuse of antibiotics in livestock contributes significantly to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria.

Livestock antibiotics are routinely given to healthy animals and the volume of antibiotics used in animals is continuing to increase due to the growing demand for animal products worldwide. If no action is taken to restrict and reduce the use of antibiotics in food animals, by 2050, according to WHO, almost all current antibiotics will be ineffective in preventing and treating human diseases.

The solution is simple: Avoid using antibiotics unless necessary.

This is common sense and medical experts have been constantly advocating to the animal industries not to abuse antibiotics.

Yet the situation remains grave. Simply being aware of the problem is far from enough to solve the problem. In order to affect real change, it requires the efforts of all, including legal measures to curb the overuse of antibiotics in healthy animals. The National Health and Family Planning Commission, China's top health authority, issued an action plan on curbing misuse of antibiotics last August, and we hope that plan can be effectively implemented.

Besides, food enterprises need to have a sense of responsibility. Certain enterprises reportedly require their suppliers of animal products to refrain from using antibiotics, we expect more to follow suit.

It is necessary for all sides involved to quickly respond to the WHO's call for action, because bacteria evolve faster than the development of antibiotics. There is not much time left.

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