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Prudent controls in place for veterinary medicines

Prudent controls in place for veterinary medicines

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority today said it shared the concerns about antibiotic resistance in humans but was confident the controls in place for the use of veterinary medicines in New Zealand were prudent and reflected best international standards.

The NZFSA was responding to concerns raised by microbiologists from Southern Community Laboratories and Dr Greg Cook of Otago University about vancomycin-resistant enterococci in poultry.

NZFSA Director of Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Debbie Morris says the information provided in the research raises some interesting questions and is particularly useful because of its relevance to New Zealand.

“Our role is to protect consumers and we share the concerns about antibiotic resistance. Whenever robust new information is brought to light we will act on it. Our programme is based on scientific evidence and risk management. Naturally we take any new information that comes to light in this area seriously,” Ms Morris said.

She says the use of antiobiotics as growth promotants where there is a human health concern has virtually stopped following a recent review.

“There are controls of use in place for all antibiotics used on animals in New Zealand. The NZFA maintains a watching brief on the use of antibiotics in animals, including poultry. Avoparcin, which was looked at as part of Dr Cook’s research is no longer used in New Zealand and hasn’t been since 2000. Almost all of the other products mentioned in the study have had a range of tighter controls applied recently that would not have been reflected in this study,” Ms Morris said.

“We realise that people are concerned about bacteria, which may carry the threat of antibiotic resistance, being present on food. It is important to remember that bacteria, most of which are harmless, are found everywhere – the environment, animals, people and our food. Some of these are resistant to some antibiotics – this occurs naturally. It is therefore important to remember the four “Cs” when preparing food – clean/cook/cover/chill.”

The New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership, of which NZFSA is a member, is holding its first ever Foodsafe Week next week. We will be reminding people during that week how to keep their food safe. It’s easy to prevent the spread of bacteria,” Ms Morris said.

The 4cs are:

Clean hands before and after handling food. Wash knives and utensils and scrub chopping boards. Cook chicken, meat patties and sausages thoroughly. Reheat leftovers till piping hot. Cover food. Store raw and cooked food separately. Chill food. Use a chilly bin with a frozen chill pad when cooking and eating outdoors.

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