Danish pig producers reducing the use of antibiotics

The use of tetracycline for pigs may increase resistance to the antibiotic also among people

New figures from Fødevarestyrelsen, the food authority, reveal that Danish pig producers reduced the use of the antibiotic tetracycline by 9.1 percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year.

Compared to other countries, Denmark and the Netherlands are world pioneers when it comes to having a large, intensive pig production with a low consumption of antibiotics.

It’s your choice
“It took us a long time to get here. Over the years, we have developed new housing systems, improved hygiene and generally the way we produce pigs,” stated Claus Fertin, the head of the Danish Pig Research Centre (PRC).

“You may save a few kroner on buying bacon that was not produced in Denmark, but as a consumer you should be aware that every time you choose a meat product that is not Danish, you accept it contains a much higher level of antibiotics.”

READ MORE: Reduction of antibiotic use and more welfare inspections for Danish pigs

May increase resistance
The intention to decrease the use of tetracycline, which is used to treat many different bacterial infections, comes after medical professionals found it may increase resistance to the antibiotic also among humans.

Last year, the PRC announced a plan to halve the use of tetracycline by the end of 2015; however, the goal will probably not be reached as pig producers have only managed to reduce the usage by 20.5 percent so far.

Looking for an alternative
According to Kristian Viekilde, the pig veterinarian chairman at the Danish Veterinary Association, the two organisations are also focusing on finding an alternative to tetracycline that would not compromise animal welfare.

The PRC is currently conducting a study among 20 pig producers who do not use tetracycline at all.

The research centre hopes results will show when the use of antibiotics is necessary and when it can be avoided.