Tackling Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Pig Production

Lessons Learned in Denmark

image of Tackling Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Pig Production

This report describes a campaign to limit the use of antimicrobials – specifically antibiotics – in the Danish swine-producing sector. It is a testimony of the collaboration between the regulatory sector within the Ministry of Environment and Food (and its agriculture-focused precursors), private veterinary practitioners and swine producers (large and small), to tackle the unsustainable overuse of antibiotics in the industry, and is a retrospective tribute to all those who had the foresight to make significant changes to ensure consumer protection: improving hygiene at primary sites of swine production, developing options for intervention through a system of surveillance and collation of data from feed mills to veterinary practitioner prescriptions, identifying sites for intervention, setting targets, restructuring the relationship between the veterinary services and farmers, and implementing changes in behaviour for greatest impact. Denmark in many ways laid out a plan before there was any known roadmap to follow; each step was based on continuous analysis and feedback to the operators – private and public – for ongoing monitoring and accountability as a driver for change. It is hoped that this historical guide may serve other countries, food producers, regulators, veterinarians and those responsible for veterinary structures, as well as academia, to identify ways forward to limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance, which is threatening public health, animal health and safe food production worldwide.



Organizational and governmental initiatives

AMR bacteria and resistant determinants are regarded as zoonotic, with the potential for transmission within and between humans, animals, food and the environment. Therefore, it is crucial that efforts to mitigate AMR follow a One Health approach. The early efforts outlined in this report were driven by and focused on the veterinary sector. To promote a One Health approach, Denmark established the Danish National Antimicrobial Council in 2010 with very broad representation from governmental authorities, universities, hospitals and various stakeholder organizations such as the Danish Veterinary Association. The objective of the Council is to discuss and contribute to the solution of specific tasks in the field of antimicrobials and offer guidance to national and international initiatives on antimicrobial use and resistance. Similarly, an Advisory Committee on Veterinary Medicines was set up in 2018 to help make evidence-based professional decisions in relation to the use of veterinary medicine and to predict and tackle issues proactively.


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