The impact of antimicrobial resistance on the Chinese poultry industry: 01-21-2020

Farm animal in northeast China are becoming more resistance to common antimicrobial drugs, this is a rising and worrying trend in the region as meat production and demand has increased. The drug resistance Is not just confined to China but is also spreading in Kenya, Uruguay, and Brazil. Since the increased meat production after 2000 and intensive farming practices, the use of antibiotics increased to promote growth and prevent infections, the impact of which can be felt by the meat industry.


According to the research conducted by Thomas Van Boeckel, an epidemiologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the most common bacteria that have been identified is Salmonella, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus, and E-Coli. The research also indicates that four types of antimicrobial drug have been used in farm animals to help them gain weight, and these are the drugs with the highest resistance rates. The proportions of drugs to which bacteria have become resistance have almost tripled in chickens between 2000 and 2018. The statistics indicate a serious condition because China is on the verge of becoming the world largest poultry product exporter in the world.


Researchers believe that even if the government implement policies to control the use of antibiotics in animals, those efforts could get undermined if the country import poultry that has not been produced using the same standards.  The problem is beyond political borders and requires special attention especially from the high-income countries. China has strict import policies when it comes to importation of poultry from countries and there are many projects that have been initiated to control the usages of antibiotics in the Chinese poultry industry.


Recently, a project by the name of Farmwatch has been launched by the partnership of China National Centre For food Safety Risk Assessment and the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. The project will use machine learning to find new ways to identify and pinpoint diseases in poultry farms in China, reducing the need for antibiotics treatment and lowering the risk of antibiotics resistance transferring to humans. The researcher associated with the project will be taking thousands of samples from chickens and humans on 9 farms in 3 Chinese provinces over the period of 3 years.  The data collected will then allow early intervention and treatment, reducing the spread and the need for antibiotics. This project will not only contribute towards sustainable development in China through improved health and well-being of population but will improve the international confidence in the poultry products exported from China.

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