Medicated feed: Deal on new rules to fight antimicrobial resistance 


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  • prevention is better than cure 
  • ban on prophylactic or routine metaphylactic use of antibiotic medicated feed 
  • antibiotic medicated feed to be prescribed by a veterinarian after examination 

New rules on more responsible ways to produce, sell and use medicated feed to tackle the spread of antimicrobial resistance were informally agreed with Council’s negotiators on Tuesday.

The agreed text still needs to be formally adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council of EU ministers.


New rules will ban prophylactic, i.e. preventive, use of antibiotic medicated feed. Metaphylactic use, i.e. treating the whole group of animals when one is infected, will be allowed only when the risk of spread of infection is high and there is no appropriate alternative.


MEPs insisted that antibiotics must under no circumstances be used to enhance the performance of animals or to replace poor animal husbandry. Prescriptions for medicated feed containing antibiotics should be always issued by a veterinarian after a proper physical examination and diagnosis.


To ensure efficient fight against antimicrobial resistance MEPs pushed for extending new rules on medicated feed (prepared by feed mills or professionals) to all animal medicines administered orally, whether via feed or drinking water, including so-called 'top dressing' (prepared by farmers). The agreed text instructs the Commission to consult the European Medicines Agency and then establish appropriate rules that would close existing loopholes.


Specific science-based cross-contamination limits


One year after the regulation becomes applicable, the Commission should define science-based specific maximum levels for cross-contaminations of various active medicinal substances from feed to targeted animals to the next batch of non-targeted feed. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should be consulted to this end.




‟Responding to society’s concerns, we have managed today to replace disjointed rules dating back to 1990, with modern and uniform ones that will greatly increase the safety of medicated feed in the EU and will step up our fight against antimicrobial resistance‟, said Parliament’s rapporteur and lead negotiator Clara Eugenia Aguilera García (S&D, ES).


“Medicated feed is just one way of administering a veterinary medicinal product, but as this mix is more homogeneous and more precise in targeting animal diseases, it is a better way to address the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. It is also safer for farmers than, for instance, top dressing, which is not covered by existing rules. This will now change as we have obliged the Commission to come up with EU-wide rules to do away with this loophole”, she added.


Next steps


Once approved by the Agriculture Committee, the Parliament and the Council, the regulation will be published in the EU’s Official Journal. It would enter into force twenty days thereafter and should become applicable three years later.




The European Parliament endorsed on 8 March 2016 in a final vote the Animal Health Law, which updates measures to tackle outbreaks of animal diseases such as avian flu, African swine fever or foot and mouth disease. These new rules put more emphasis on prevention and oblige all farmers, animal owners and traders to apply the principles of good animal husbandry and prudent use of veterinary medicines, including antimicrobials.


In line with this principle, the text of the future veterinary medicines regulations was agreed by the Parliament’s and Council’s negotiators on 5 June 2018. New veterinary medicines rules, together with the medicated feed ones, will restrict the use of existing antimicrobials, ban routine collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals and stimulate research into new medicines.



Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision), 1st reading agreement

Type of the document: Regulation