Antibiotics and dry cow therapy: what's the problem?
There is global concern about food safety and the effect antibiotic use in animal production has on our ability to treat human infections in high profile “superbugs” such as MRSA. Antibiotic use in animals has come under significant scrutiny, with a call to reduce their use. Global consumer brands have increased the profile of this issue by announcing their desire to reduce antibiotic use in their supply chains. This has further fueled public perception of the potential implications of antibiotic resistance. New Zealand is a recognised leader in food production, particularly in dairy products, and it is the aim of this project to review how the use of antibiotics in this economically important sector may create both risks and opportunities. Antibiotics are an important tool for treating disease and have a critical role in food production systems. By volume and importance, the greatest use of antibiotics in the dairy industry is for dairy cow mastitis (mammary gland infection) and in particular the treatment of cows finishing their milking season, known as dry cow therapy (DCT). In many cases whole herds are treated prophylactically with these antibiotics. In a competitive marketplace where many trade partners are seeking barriers to prevent imports and protect local business, this prophylactic, or blanket use, creates a potential market access risk.... [Show full abstract]