A UK government committee has warned that giving antibiotics to farm animals has serious implications for human health.

A report from the United Kingdom Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food confirms that the emergence of resistant bacteria is, in part, the result of inappropriate use of antibiotics in farming.

The report recommends reduced reliance on the use of antimicrobials in food and animal production and urges regulatory authorities to consider the consequences, before authorising veterinary medicine.

It goes on to state: “Having considered the matter very carefully, we concluded it would be prudent to phase out the use as growth promoters of spiramycin, tylosin phosphate and virginiamycin which might give rise to resistance to clinical antibiotics.”

The authors also say that while there is conclusive evidence that antibiotics used in farming lead to antibiotic resistance in humans, it is, as yet, unclear about the extent to which the whole problem of antibiotics in the food chain contribute to this problem (BMJ, 1999; 319: 536).

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