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JIS News

Stakeholders in the poultry industry met recently to examine and come to a unified position on the use and regulation of antibiotics in chicken rearing.
The meeting, which was held at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St. Catherine, also sought to help producers gain a broader understanding of the implications and opportunities that could be presented with greater regulation of antibiotic use, in addition to developing strategies to advance the sector.
Antibiotics are used widely in the animal industry to speed up growth. Food safety experts have however noted that the overuse of antibiotics poses a threat to human health by helping to create so-called microscopic “superbugs” which are resistant to modern medicines.
Europe has banned the use of antibiotics in chicken rearing and has regulated the use of other hormonal growth promotants (HGP) in the animal food industry in general.
Leon Hedley, Vice President for Procurement and Trade at Jamaica Broilers, explained to JIS News that the industry leaders were of the view that Jamaica should examine closely, the direction the poultry industry was headed and to optimise global best practices.
“The situation is debatable whether Europe has benefited by banning the use of antibiotics.but we can’t depend on the Europeans or the Americans to make decisions for us so it is in our interest to sit with people, who are informed and then make our own decisions,” he stated.
Mr. Hedley noted further that, “the consumer has been asking questions for some time now and therefore we thought it best to educate ourselves, get a better feel for what’s happening in the rest of the world and to be better able, as an industry, to take informed decisions”.
Terry Stoner of the United States-based company, Elanco Animal Health, had high praises for the Jamaican poultry industry, noting that it was in “good health”.
“I can’t say there is anything that the industry needs to adjust. The Jamaican industry is doing a fantastic job in producing quality, affordable, safe chicken already. What we want to look at is how to do it better in collaboration with the government and the industry to have the best outcomes,” she stated.
Elanco manufactures a wide range of inputs for the animal industry including antibiotics, growth and productivity feed additives and parasiticides, which are supplied to countries all over the world, including Jamaica. The company is one of the top 10 providers of inputs for the animal industry in the United States.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hedley informed that come February 2006, a meeting would be held with veterinarians and officials from the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, “to ensure that everyone is on the same page as it relates to ensuring the continued production of the best quality animal food for consumption by Jamaicans”.