Antibiotic resistance in the livestock industry

Animals with a bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics. But the more often antibiotics are used, the more likely bacteria are to develop resistance to them. These superbugs can be transmitted to people. And it can be difficult to treat people with a superbug infection. That is why strict rules apply to the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.

Less antibiotic use in the livestock industry

In the past, antibiotic use in the Dutch livestock industry was fairly high compared with other countries. Between 2009 and 2014, antibiotic use in the livestock industry fell by 59%. The goal is that by 2015, antibiotic use will have fallen by another 11%.

Rules on antibiotics in livestock farming

The livestock industry must comply with strict rules on antibiotic use:

  • Antibiotics may only be prescribed by a veterinarian.
  • Vets must inspect and assess a farm before prescribing antibiotics to sick animals. Farmers may only administer antibiotics themselves under strict conditions.
  • Livestock farmers must register all the antibiotics they use, to show how much each animal receives. The Netherlands Veterinary Medicines Authority (SDA), which sets rules for responsible antibiotic use, collects this information.
  • ‘Last-resort’ antibiotics for humans may only be administered to sick livestock under strict conditions.
  • Farmers may not deliver animals for slaughter that contain antibiotic residues.

The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) monitors the registration and use of antibiotics by farmers.