Some people have cited the European Union example and asked us why Canada has not followed suit. It would be hasty to completely drop these tools which are critical components to protecting bird health and welfare, and which are being used responsibly, appropriately and safely. Let’s be clear: the European Union has not banned the use of antibiotics altogether. Through a succession of bans, the European Union banned the majority of all feed antibiotics used for livestock agriculture. This is not a full ban on antibiotics, as antibiotics to treat sick animals can still be used. True, this approach has reduced the overall amount of medications being used, but now they have removed drugs that had little or no use in human medicine.
The negative side to the EU story is that, as a result of the ban, there has been an increase in the use of antibiotics that are more important to human medicine, specifically fluoroquinolones and macrolides. The debate rages on about this and the thought by governing officials of varying political stripes is that, since public health is the most important objective, raising the use of antibiotics of human importance can’t be the desired outcome. The majority of antimicrobials used in poultry production are not used in human medicine, and likewise, the antibiotics most used in humans are not those most used in broiler production. Regardless, the chicken industry continues to investigate antibiotic use with a proactive and sector-wide goal of reduction.