Meat & Livestock News

NZ’s Vigilance on Antibiotic Use Reflects in Reduced Sales, Aligning with Global Health Directives

Hands, pills and water in glass with health, sick person and pharmaceutical iron supplement for medical problem. Healthcare, top and pharmacy drugs in palm, pain relief and prescription medicine.

In a recent analytical summary, New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) has chronicled a marked contraction in the commercial exchange of antibiotics for veterinary and horticultural applications.

This 23% year-on-year diminution echoes New Zealand’s commitment to the global initiative against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a concern that the World Health Organization ranks among humanity’s most pressing health challenges.

Vincent Arbuckle, Deputy Director-General at NZFS, has acknowledged this trend as a stride in the right direction. He underscored the pivotal role of antibiotics in safeguarding the health of humans, alongside fauna and flora, while cautioning against the repercussions of their excessive use, which fosters the proliferation of resistant bacterial strains.

With the global rise of AMR and a dearth of novel antibiotics in development, Arbuckle underscored the imperative of prudent antibiotic application to sustain their therapeutic efficacy.

NZFS’s vigilance extends to 16 antibiotic categories, with an acute focus on five classes deemed indispensable to human health, reserved as a last line of defence against severe animal infections.

Arbuckle delineated the sales trajectory, noting a 42% plunge from 71,361kg in 2017 to 41,033kg in 2022. He ascribed this significant downturn to the collaborative endeavour of the agricultural sector and NZFS to foster responsible antibiotic stewardship.

The proactive stance of veterinarians and agriculturalists, underpinned by NZFS’s meticulous monitoring and guidance, has been instrumental in mitigating AMR incidents.

Arbuckle also revealed that NZFS is scrutinising its regulatory framework governing antibiotic utilisation in agriculture, which may lead to more stringent controls. This scrutiny is part of a broader five-year initiative, involving a thorough review of a multitude of antibiotic products.

The New Zealand Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan, conceived in 2017 by an alliance of the Ministry of Health, NZFS, and representatives from the medical, veterinary, and agricultural domains, is predicated on managing antimicrobials as a precious communal resource.

The plan’s vision is to sustain the potency of antimicrobials for human infection treatment and for managing diseases in animals and plants. An enhanced version of this action plan is anticipated next year.