Responsible use of antibiotics - meat and milk
High and improper use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is associated with an increased prevalence of resistant bacteria.1 Increased antibiotics resistance constitutes a public health threat worldwide, and is an important sustainability challenge.2 Contracting authorities that set criteria regarding the responsible use of antibiotics can contribute to antibiotics being used only when necessary for the sake of an animal's health.
- Technical specification
- Milk and dairy from cows
Animal food products must be derived from animal production where antibiotics are not used for the purpose of promoting growth or routinely as a preventative measure. Antibiotics may be given only to sick animals or as prescribed by a veterinarian to animals in groups in which disease has broken out, after a diagnosis of clinical disease in part of the group has been established.
The total number of medical treatments must be documented along with the reasons for treatment and medical preparations used.
3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones may be used only when microbiological examination and antimicrobial susceptibility tests show that there are no effective alternatives.
Upon request the supplier shall be ready to present, for example, one of the following:
- Certification that meets the requirement, such as IP nöt och mjölk grundcertifiering [IP Beef and Milk base level certification], or other certification showing that the requirement is met.
- Details of country of origin of animal ingredients and reference to applicable law in cases where national legislation establishes that the requirement is met, e.g.
- Origin: Sweden, chapter 7, sections 12 and 15 of D 8, L 41, SJVFS (2019:25) and chapter 1, sections 2-4 and 11 of D 9, SJVFS (2019:32).
- Affiliation with a control or animal health programme that has requirements regarding the use of antibiotics and the documentation thereof.
- Excerpts from inspection reports, veterinary medical records, farm records and/or records of administered medicinal products that verify that the requirement is met, together with documentation of antibiotic use.
One method of follow-up is through spot checks of delivered products. It is then checked that information about the country of origin of the raw material can be provided/details that the supplier has submitted with the tender are reviewed: such as by means of:
- Product labelling, e.g.,
- Svenskt Sigill, Från Sverige [From Sweden], Kött från Sverige [Meat from Sweden], Mjölk från Sverige [Milk from Sweden] or other labels, with documentation showing that the requirement is met for example excerpts from inspection reports, veterinary medical records, farm records and/or records of administered medicinal products that verify that the requirement is met, together with documentation of antibiotic use.
- Other written documentation showing that the requirement is met, such as certificates showing that the holder or relevant subcontractor is affiliated with an animal welfare programme that incorporates the above requirements, and documentation of antibiotic use in a journal.
Sample questions for following up the antibiotics criterion for meat and milk:
1. Is the use of antibiotics for the purpose of promoting growth prohibited by national, transnational, regional or certification regulations?
2. Can it be guaranteed that antibiotics are not routinely used in any of the following ways?1
- Treatment of all piglets pre-weaning to prevent infections, for example navel infections.
- Treatment of all piglets at weaning, for example to prevent post weaning diarrhoea.
- Treatment to all pigs during growing period post weaning, for example to prevent meningitis caused by the bacteria Streptococcus suis.
- Treatment of all, or the majority of, cows with antibiotics after calving to make them fertile more quickly.
- Treatment or all, or the majority of, cattle using antibiotic hoof baths to prevent or cure hoof infections.
- Antibiotic ionophores in the feed to stabilise the rumen (improve feed efficiency) or for coccidiosis prevention.
- Treatment of all, or the majority of, dairy cows with antibiotics during the dry period.
- Treatment of all, or the majority of, sheep or goats with antibiotics during pregnancy to prevent abortions.
- Treatment of all, or the majority of, sheep or goats using antibiotic hoof baths to prevent or cure hoof infections.
- Antibiotic ionophores in the feed to prevent coccidiosis.
- Treatment of all, or the majority of, young lambs or kids with antibiotics to prevent morbidity.
3. Is a veterinarian responsible for diagnosis, choice of treatment and prescription in accordance with national, transnational, regional or certification regulations?
4. Do the national, transnational, regional or certification regulations prohibit the use of 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones when effective alternatives are available?
5. What documentation exists that can verify the above? E.g., excerpts from legislation, certification regulations, veterinary records, certificates etc.
Note that a follow-up that does not involve labelling is done at the production level, not for individual products.
1 Examples of the routine use of antibiotics are provided by the animal health and antibiotics issues department at the National Veterinary Institute (Statens veterinärmedicinska anstalt—SVA). See also Guidelines for the use of antibiotics in cattle and pigs (Swedish).
Information about the criterion
'Antibiotics' is used here in accordance with the definition of medicinal products for veterinary use in Directive 2001/82 EC. 'Routinely' refers to where an illness is so common that antibiotics are used in the majority of production cycles; that is, that the production system require regular treatment. See examples according to species in the information on the sustainability criteria.
The use of antibiotics in animal production in Sweden is controlled by the County Administrative Board monitoring medicinal products at farms and animal healthcare personnel. Amongst other things, an administrative inspection is made on the medicinal products that are prescribed.
Market availability may be limited for individual products.
Organic production also prohibits preventative medicinal treatment.
The high and improper use of antibiotics in livestock production is associated with an increased prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The use of antibiotics in animal husbandry should therefore be limited wherever possible. However, sick animals do still need to be treated with antibiotics, but antibiotics must not be used to promote growth or for the purpose of preventing disease. Antibiotics for the purpose of promoting growth are forbidden in the EU. Regulation (EU) 2019/06 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding veterinary medicinal products, which applies from January 2022, also prohibits that so-called prophylactic treatment, i.e. preventive treatment without clinical signs of disease, with antibiotics to groups of animals. The regulation does allow so-called metaphylactic treatment to a group of animals in which disease has been diagnosed for some animals and the risk for infection is very high. Antibiotics must not be applied routinely nor used to compensate for poor hygiene or inadequate animal husbandry1.
Third and fourth generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones are substances considered of critical importance and of highest priority for human medicine by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and require resistance testing according to 2 kap. 11 § in SJVFS 2019:32 D 9.2
The regulations of the Swedish Board of Agriculture, SJVFS (2019:25) set out provisions and general advice regarding the obligations of animal keepers and animal healthcare personnel. Regulations regarding medicines and their use can be found in SJVFS (2019:32). The county administrative boards monitor compliance with these regulations. In Sweden, procedures are documented by the individual farms and are reported to the Swedish Board of Agriculture by veterinarians.
The version date indicates when the sustainability criterion was created or last updated. Last reviewed dated tells when we last checked that the sustainability criterion still is relevant.
- Current ID
- Version date
2020-03-25: Original version. In accordance with EU regulation 2019/06, EMA, WHO and the Swedish Board of Agriculture.