In the foreseeable future, the use of antibiotics in poultry farming can be minimised by using natural enemies of harmful bacteria. This became clear during the ‘Romijn lecture' at the seminar of the Dutch branch of the WPSA on December 8 in Utrecht. For years the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in livestock farming and in humans has been linked to poultry meat and eggs.
The result is that consumers are increasingly driven by fear in their choice of foods, said Dr. Simone Hertzberger. According to her, supermarkets increasingly require the production and processing of those consumer products to be completely transparent.
Against the background of an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, much work is being done to develop remedies that can put a stop to this growth. The first successes have been achieved by the Wageningen-based biotech company Micreos. Its CEO M. Offerhaus stated that the use of bacteriophages (phages) has been found to be successful. Phages are about 100 times smaller than bacteria but are their natural enemies. They are bacterium (species) specific and do not affect humans, animals or plants. Moreover, they do not affect the characteristics of processed foods.
According to Prof. Dr. R. Ducatelle, University of Gent, a more likely medium-term solution is creating healthy bacterial intestinal profiles. For this, more attention to the non-digestible components of the feed is needed, because these promote the growth of bacteriocins. These bacteriocins are the natural enemies of harmful bacteria and provide a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines. If this is the case, the use of antibiotics will no longer be necessary and the excessive growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be reduced.
Thus a positive picture was painted of the possibilities to reduce the use of antibiotics in poultry farming. An increasing number of farms show that they can do without. The main cause for concern is that the approach to antibiotics and resistant bacteria has become a political matter instead of a scientific one.
Source: World's Poultry Science Association (WPSA) www.wpsa.nl