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News Article

European Union Prohibits the Use of Antibiotics as Growth Promoters

From the 1 January 2006, the European Union (EU) will impose a complete ban on the use of four types of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feeds, amid fears that they are causing drug resistance in some types of pathogen microorganisms

The EU has already banned antibiotics used in human medicine from being added to animal feed. The new regulation controlling the use of additives in animal feeds completes this ban on antibiotic growth promoters by prohibiting the use of four substances, including monensin sodium, salinomycin sodium, avilamycin and flavophospholipol.

David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, has welcomed the regulation, which will strengthen the control of all types of additives in animal feed, but in particular it completes the EU´s drive to phase out antibiotics as growth promoters.

The Regulation covers five broad categories of additives, namely technological additives (e.g. preservatives), sensory additives (e.g. flavours, colorants), nutritional additives (e.g. vitamins), zootechnical additives (e.g. gut flora improvers, non-microbial growth promoters) and coccidiostats (additives to prevent poultry disease).

Under the Regulation only additives that have been through an authorisation procedure could be put on the market, used or processed. Authorisations will be valid for 10 years and will be specific for animal species with a maximum dosage allowance. The new rules will require drug companies to demonstrate that the additive has positive effects for the animal and does not pose any risk to humans, animals and the environment (safety). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be responsible for conducting these evaluations.

Maximum residue limits (MRLs) will be established for some feed additives where it proves necessary. A post-monitoring system as well as regular testing of foodstuffs, which are already common practice, should assure that these are observed.

A ban is likely to be a big blow to the £500 million a year antibiotics industry in the EU. About 15% of all sales of antibiotics in the EU currently go into animal feeds, mainly for chickens and pigs.

For further information see MEMO/02/66 at


Article details

  • Author(s)
  • M. Djuric
  • Date
  • 23 December 2005
  • Subject(s)
  • Animal nutrition
  • Dairy Science
  • Veterinary medicine