Written Q&A to EU Commission – Antibiotics as growth promoters – Antibiotic resistance

An interesting question about the possibility to use antibiotics as growth promoter and the antibiotic resistance. This is a theme which I care a lot, because probably it will be one of the next global challenge in the food sector and I think that it’s really undervalued, especially the effects of an abuse of antibiotics on animals and the side effects on humans, derived from consumption of such animals as food, but also by the release of antibiotic residues in the environment through their dejections.

In the notes, the link to the EU Action Plan against antibiotic resistance.

Question for written answer E-000426/12 to the Commission

Andreas Mölzer (NI)

(23 January 2012)

Subject: Resistant bacteria in chicken

Spot checks carried out in German supermarkets have shown that the chicken sold there often contains antibiotic resistant bacteria that can also damage human health. The widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed can mean that some medicines (such as penicillin) no longer have any effect on people who consume resistant bacteria in their food.

In theory, antibiotics should only be administered to animals with acute illnesses. Studies in North-Rhine-Westphalia have shown, however, that antibiotics are often illegally used as growth promoters.

1. What is the legal position in the EU with regard to the administration of doses of antibiotics in animal feed?

2. How much cooperation is taking place at EU level to prevent meat from animals, including chickens, that have been illegally treated with antibiotics from being moved from one EU Member State to another to avoid inspections?

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

(22 February 2012)

In 2006 the EU prohibited the use of antimicrobial growth promoters in feed. Thus, antibiotics can only be administered in the EU upon prescription of a veterinarian for treating or preventing disease in animals. The EU legislation on medicated feed and veterinary medicinal products is currently under review, and as announced in the action plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (1), the Commission intends to address the issues of misuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance.

Directive 96/23/EC (2) on measures to monitor certain substances, including veterinary medicinal products and residues thereof, in live animals and animal products lays down official control measures regarding illegal treatment.

In cases where controls demonstrate the need for an investigation in one or more other Member States, the competent authority of those Member States shall take all necessary measures in accordance with Directive 89/608/EEC (3) on mutual assistance between the administrative authorities of the Member States and the cooperation between the latter and the Commission to ensure the correct application of the legislation on veterinary and zootechnical matters. The proper implementation of the Member States’ control measures regarding illegal treatment is an important element of the inspections performed by the Commission.


⋅1∙ COM(2011) 748 final of 15.11.2011.

⋅2∙ OJ L125, 23.5.1996.

⋅3∙ OJ L351, 2.12.1989.


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