FEFAC - IACA joint event on animal nutrition solutions against AMR on 9 October 2018

FEFAC and IACA, its Portuguese Member Association, organized on 9 October 2018 a Workshop on Animal Nutrition solutions against AMR, hosted by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Lisbon. This was the occasion to update the assistance composed of feed manufacturers and students, on fast development of innovative approaches to help reduce the need for antibiotics via the use of specialty feed ingredients or implementation of feeding strategies.

Gabriel Rui, (GR presentation) representing the Portuguese Animal Health Industry, stressed the commitment of the Animal Health Industry to invest in alternative strategies to antibiotics, in particular preventive approaches such as use of vaccines. He, however, reminded that sick animals need to be treated, if need be via antibiotics and that prudent use of antibiotics means using the right drug at the right amount via the right route and during the right period.

Jose Costa (JC presentation) from the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture reminded the global challenge of AMR and emphasized the progress already achieved in Portugal in terms of reduction of antibiotics use in animals during the period 2010-2015 (-24%), as a result of the implementation of the National Action Plan on the reduction of the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. He insisted on the need to implement proper monitoring tools and for commitments from the different stakeholders, illustrated in Portugal with the signature of sectorial agreements, including with the feed industry.

Reinder Sijtsma (RS presentation), Chairman of the FEFAC Premix & Mineral Feed Committee, reminded the key role that animal nutrition can play in helping animals to cope with pathogens as emphasized by EFSA and EMA in their joint report (RONAFA) of January 2017. He stressed that a number of feed ingredients can play a positive role on animal health management in preventing the ingestion of pathogens, in modulating the gut microbiota, improving gut integrity and fostering immunomodulation. However, he stressed that the present EU legal framework imposes to innovative products a number of hurdels before they can be placed on the market as feed additives and still once they are authorised, communication on their functionalities is restricted by the legal constraints on health-like claims.

Predrag Persak (PP presentation), Chairman of the FEFAC Animal Nutrition Committee, reminded that animal nutrition was more than just making animals grow faster. He developed the concept of gut friendly feed, i.e. the characteristics of feed such as fiber or particle size that will impact on gut health. He emphasized the tremendous progress made in characterization of the microbiota of animals’ gut, while stressing that there was still a lot to  do to modelise the optimal microbiota. He also insisted on the importance for all stakeholders involved in the livestock sector (animal health industry, animal breeding industry, feed industry, farmers, veterinarians, authorities, etc.) to bring their contribution and cooperate in symbiosis to stimulate progress in enhancing the animal health status on the farm.

During the debate, this question of cooperation among stakeholders was emphasized several times. The question of the legal status and the legal constraints for market access of certain substances was also stressed, as well as the importance to secure a proper justification of claims.

Professor Manuel Chaveiro Soares (MCS presentation) from IACA  emphasised the serious global challenge of AMR and held the view that the efficiency of antibiotics we have today must be preserved, as the emergence of new antibiotics class is unlikely. He stressed that the main recommendation for animal production with minimal antibiotic use is to maintain animals in comfortable conditions, free from situations that impact welfare and health.