Policy ForumGlobal Health

Reducing antimicrobial use in food animals

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1350-1352
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1495

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  • Alert to the compromise of antimicrobial action
    • Zhitong Yao, Hangzhou Dianzi University
    • Other Contributors:
      • Caihong Hu, Zhejiang University
      • Yulong Yin, The Chinese Academy of Sciences

    In the Policy Forum “Reducing antimicrobial use in food animals” (29 September, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6358/1350), Van Boeckel et al. reported on the antimicrobial resistance issue and proposed solutions for curbing antimicrobial use. However, these analyses focused mainly on common feed formula and veterinary medicines uses. Unpredictable conditions on antimicrobial use, such as the immediate bans on zinc oxide and copper salts in feed, were not taken into account, and thus the corresponding solutions are deficient.
    Post-weaning diarrhea remains a major cause of economic loss for the hog industry, and antimicrobials are well considered one of the most effective ways to prevent it. However, as mentioned in the report, increasing concern has been raised about antimicrobial resistance (1, 2). As potential alternatives to antimicrobials, high levels of ZnO (2000-4000 ppm Zn) and copper salts (125-250 ppm Cu) are often added to piglet diets. However, the use of pharmacological ZnO or copper can have negative consequences, including the potential toxic effects of metals, interaction with other nutrients, and environmental concerns (3). The EC recently banned the veterinary use of ZnO in feed, and China has initiated strict limits on the use of zinc. The European Food Safety Authority has also proposed a significant reduction in the copper levels (4).
    The U.K. NPA estimates that 70-9...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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