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The `Denish Model` - New Impacts
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a report of an independent review of the effects of antimicrobial growth promoter termination in Denmark on animal production, animal health, food safety and the economy. The report concludes that there have been no serious negative effects and, under conditions similar to those found in Denmark, the use of antimicrobials for the sole purpose of growth promotion can be discontinued.

Through voluntary and regulatory action, antimicrobial growth promoters were withdrawn from use in cattle, broilers and finisher pigs in February 1998. Use in weaner pigs ceased in the following year. Virtually no antimicrobial growth promoters have been used in Denmark since the end of 1999.

The report concludes that DenmarkÂ’s programme to discontinue use of antimicrobial growth promoters has been very beneficial in reducing the total quantity of antimicrobials administered to food animals and in reducing antimicrobial resistance in important food animal reservoirs.

WHO says the phasing out of antimicrobial growth promoters was done without major consequences. Under Danish conditions, the negative impacts are largely attributable to their disease prophylaxis properties, with no effect on growth in broilers and only a small effect on growth in pigs.

In pigs, where most antimicrobials were used in Denmark, antimicrobial growth promoter termination was associated with a reduction in growth rate and an increase in mortality and diarrhoea in weaners, but these changes were not detectable in finishers. Many of these effects were probably due to termination of olaquindox and carbadox, which were withdrawn throughout the EU in 1999 due to concerns about potential toxicity to humans from occupational exposure. The other antimicrobial growth promoters have little or no activity against the gram-negative bacterial infections believed to be most important in post-weaning diarrhoea of pigs.

The report suggests that the withdrawal of antimicrobial growth promoters has most likely had a relatively small but negative effect on the Danish economy. However, it is suggested that the negative effect may be, at least partially, offset by the benefits of increased consumer confidence in, and demand for, Danish pig and poultry meat. According to the report, any net cost needs to be set against the likely human health benefits following antimicrobial growth promoter termination, as would be expected in some circumstances to result in the lowering of the antimicrobial resistance rate in bacteria that are ingested by people via the food chain.

Most information for the review was provided at the International Invitational Symposium; Beyond Antimicrobial Growth Promoters in Food Animal Production, held 6-7 November 2002 in Foulum, Denmark, and in meetings with national experts 8-9 November 2002. This was supplemented where necessary by additional published and (rarely) unpublished data.

Source: www.animalscience.com




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