The future of antibiotics in animal production

The need to reduce the use of antibiotics by breeders is one of the significant challenges posed by the requirements of the European Green Deal and changing consumer expectations. Our questions are answered by Wojciech Kapusta, Export Director at AdiFeed, which deals with the production of phytobiotics.

What does AdiFeed do?
We are a Polish producer of phytobiotics, i.e. preparations of plant origin used in animal nutrition. These products are 100% natural, safe and alternative to commonly overused antibiotics. They are not subject to a withdrawal period and can be used with drinking water and with fodder throughout the entire production cycle in all livestock species.

The substances contained in this type of products have a very wide range of applications. They are a natural alternative to antibiotic growth promoters banned in the European Union countries. They have a pro-health effect and have a positive effect on production indicators by improving appetite and fodder utilization. This translates into better production parameters and, consequently, into the economic result of animal husbandry. Phytoncides also have antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties, they also have an immunomodulating effect. They make it possible to significantly reduce or completely eliminate the overuse of antibiotics in animal production. They have become very popular all over the world, and therefore veterinarians, breeders and fodder producers very often use this type of solution.

What are eubiotics? How are they made and how do they work?
Eubiotics are a group of additives used in animal nutrition, capable of partially modifying the intestinal microbiota both in terms of quantity and quality. These properties are attributed to: probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, essential oils, zinc and copper compounds and phytoncides present in herbaceous and spice plants. In recent years, some of them have been referred to by the general term “eubiotics”, which is related to the Greek term “eubiosis”, referring to the optimal balance of microflora in the digestive tract. The main purpose of using eubiotics is to maintain intestinal eubiosis, which improves the health and production efficiency of livestock.

The withdrawal of antibiotic growth promoters has created the need to look for alternatives with similar properties. The use of eubiotics in nutrition, together with improved animal living conditions and biosecurity, allows achieving similar production results without exacerbating the increasing resistance of microorganisms – which is currently a global problem.

Are eubiotics neutral for humans?
Eubiotics are not only neutral, but even beneficial for human health. When used in animal nutrition, they improve the quality of meat, extend its shelf-life and limit exposure to xenobiotics – harmful metabolites of antibiotics, and above all, they make it possible to limit the excessive use of antibiotics. They are also not harmful to the natural environment.

Why is the European Green Deal moving towards reducing the use of antibiotics?
Overall, the whole world is reducing the use of antimicrobial substances. For more than 10 years, sales of antibiotics essential for human treatment have decreased significantly – compared to 2011, there has been a reduction by 33% for 3rd and 4th generation of cephalosporins, 77% for polymyxins, 13% for fluoroquinolones and 85% for quinolones. Unfortunately, Poland is in the second, infamous place in terms of the use of antibiotics that are critical for the treatment of people. On average, 187.9 mg/PCU is used in Poland. Only Cyprus (393.9 mg / PCU) uses more.

If we do not change anything, in 2050, antibiotic resistance will be the leading cause of human death, ahead of even cancer and car accidents, as anticipated by The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Meanwhile, there are very few new antibiotics. Only a few new active ingredients have appeared in the last 30 years. Each of them, if it turns out to be effective, will be used for the treatment of people. So we can create a situation where relatively easily curable diseases will be fatal and we will encounter sepsis more and more often – this is what modern society fears the most.

After all, the use of antibiotics as a compensation for deficiencies in the animal living environment is unfortunately still quite common, which is evident in the last report of the European Medicines Agency for 2019-2020, cited above. Metaphylactic administration of antibiotics, i.e. aimed at preventing the possible occurrence of the disease, although widely condemned, is very common. The introduced legal restrictions do not eliminate the problem, hence the new tools in the form of the Green Deal.

What are the most common challenges you face when dealing with Polish breeders?
The awareness of the issue of reducing the use of antibiotics or their complete elimination in animal production among farmers is growing. Herd management, biosecurity, disinfection and welfare are the cornerstones of healthy and safe food production. Unfortunately, these are also areas where there is still a lot of work to be done. However, the growing consumer awareness and the European Union policy are accelerating the activities aimed at disseminating good animal husbandry practices with an emphasis on reducing the use of antimicrobials.

Is the promotion of antibiotic-free farming met with understanding among farmers and producers? Is it possible to completely eliminate antibiotics from animal production?
It is a very ambitious goal requiring comprehensive solutions and cooperation with veterinarians, fodder producers and breeders. The awareness of food production safety among Polish breeders is gradually increasing. Sustainable production methods are also beginning to play an increasingly important role. It is also naturally forced by the changing expectations of consumers – both domestically and on export markets. Animal production without antibiotics is possible, but requires much greater involvement and consistency in managing the production area of the farm. Producers are always looking for alternative and effective solutions to implement on their farms. In turn, AdiFeed, as a solution provider at every stage of production, promotes this approach. In certain circumstances, the use of an antibiotic may be necessary, as sick animals must be treated, which is clearly defined in the Animal Protection Act. Our goal is to keep such situations to a minimum. Let us remember that our health and that of our loved ones is at stake. As AdiFeed, we have never questioned the effectiveness and necessity of using antibiotics, but for many years we have placed great emphasis on the faster development of natural phytobiotic solutions in animal production.

How can the use of eubiotics contribute to the achievement of goals of the European Green Deal?
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious problems facing humanity today. Due to its importance, this topic was discussed by the European Parliament and is one of the most important goals of the European Green Deal (EGD).

Currently, there are many solutions available on the market that fit into the EGD. These include, among others, eubiotics, including phytobiotics produced by AdiFeed, which actively contribute to the implementation of these assumptions. By increasing the health of the digestive tract, they improve the quality of litter and air, which includes the reduction of greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. Scientific research and many years of field observations conducted by AdiFeed also confirm the beneficial effect of phytobiotics on animal welfare and, most importantly, the possibility of reducing or completely eliminating the use of antibiotics in animal production.

The use of eubiotic solutions is a modern, safe and effective tool that can be used on a massive scale.

Thank you for the interview!