European Union. European Union Ministers have decided that farmers must stop using four common antibiotics in poultry and pig feeds because of fears of the effects of residues in the food chain. The drugs are normally given to the animals to promote growth, but there have been fears for more than 30 years that such use might increase bacterial resistance to the medicines in humans.
The products concerned are: bacitracin, spiramycin, virginiamycin and tylosin phosphate. Fifteen other antibiotics have already been banned from animal feeds, leaving four still available.
However, there is some concern that banning the use of antibiotics could lead to the use of larger therapeutic doses to treat infections as the animal grows, and public health could be endangered because antibiotics ensure that necrotic enteritis, a bacterial disease endemic in poultry, is not transmitted to humans.
Reference: The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol. 262, 2 January 1999.