Sweden’s rural affairs minister Eskil Erlandsson has attacked an "over-use" of such drugs as growth enhancers.
He argued documented scientific evidence from Swedish veterinary experts pointed to a gross over-use of antibiotics on European farms. Sweden plans to push the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to back reforms, the minister informed the Swedish parliament’s (Riksdag) committee on environment and agriculture on 19 June.
"The over-use of antibiotics reduces resilience to disease in healthy animals. This is also a public health issue," Erlandsson said. Sweden is looking for an EU ban on excessive antibiotic use as a growth accelerator in healthy livestock, he said: "Sweden cannot do battle on this issue alone. I intend to bring this matter to the EU Council of Ministers and produce evidence that antibiotics are routinely used as growth enhancers," Erlandsson said.
The Swedish government wants EU livestock welfare standards to match or exceed those currently employed in Sweden through a new animal husbandry directive, which would include antibiotics controls, said the minister. "Sweden has made a tradition of taking the lead on important issues in the EU… we must have a system where farm animals are only medicated when ill. This is our goal," said Erlandsson.
The move was welcomed by Leif Denneberg, director general of the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket).
"We are completely in alignment with the Swedish government on the issue of antibiotics. Right now in Sweden we are working with the government to format a farm-to-table quality plan. We need to include all elements and partners in the value chain, from producers, trade associations and the meat processing industry," Denneberg told GlobalMeatNews.
Achieving a uniform system of EU-regulated farm animal care and antibiotics use controls would enhance interest in Swedish farmed meat, said Denneberg. "The focus must be on animal care, public health and meat quality," he added.