Letter from Danish Chief Veterinarian to Congress

Information note regarding the Danish and EU restrictions of non-therapeutical use of antibiotics for growth promotion

Denmark is a major animal food producer in Europe, and the worlds' largest exporter of pork. The Danish food animal production is industrialised, highly intensive and applies modern management principles. Due to the great significance for the Danish economy the National Government takes the livelihood and the international competitiveness of the Danish farmers very serious.

The Danish decision to terminate the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics for growth promotion were taken as the persistent use could compromise the future effect of antibiotics for treatment of serious infections in humans as well as animals due to increasing resistance in bacteria. Moreover, the use of growth promoters were proved to possess very little, if any, effect in productivity in modern food animal production.

In Denmark the termination of non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials for growth promotion has not caused any negative impact on the animal production. The Danish animal food industry has continued to improve its productivity and to increase its output.

Overall, we have observed a more than 50% reduction in the total use of antibiotics in animal food production as a result of terminating the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial growth promoters without compromising animal health and welfare.

Danish animals are treated with antibiotics if they show symptoms of disease and because all veterinary medicinal products intended for food producing animals have been prescription-only since 2000, farmers have to seek veterinary guidance before the necessary antibiotics to ensure the optimal treatment can be obtained.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has issued treatment guidelines for swine and cattle veterinary practitioners in order to introduce food safety aspects when the veterinary practitioner is prescribing drugs. Additionally, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is carrying out yearly inspections of veterinary practitioners treating food-producing animals in order to secure a prudent use of antimicrobials.

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