SLU news

New report: "The Swedish experience” – a summary of the Swedish efforts towards a low and prudent use of antibiotics in animal production

Published: 12 May 2020
Jean-François Valarcher and Sara Hägglund taking samples for diagnosis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in cattle, photo.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are one of the greatest threats to human and animal health. Within the global animal production, this is a widespread problem and threatens food production worldwide. Already in 1986, Sweden, as the first country in the world, prohibited the use of antibiotics in animal feed for growth promotion purposes. SLU Future Animals, Nature and Health publishes a new report that summarizes the Swedish work to achieve responsible use of antibiotics for animals as well as important success factors.

- The report can serve as support when Swedish researchers participate in international projects on antibiotic use and preventive animal health work, says Johanna Grundin and Susanna Sternberg Lewerin, two of the authors of the report.

We need to explain the situation

The content of this report was originally written to provide data within a major international research project. It became obvious during the project, that there was a lack of knowledge among colleagues in the research field of antibiotic resistance, about what was done in Sweden and how successful this work was. The content therefore came to contain more than just the data needed in the project. Despite the fact that Sweden and Swedish veterinary medicine are often seen as pioneers in responsible antibiotic use and preventive animal health, there is a considerable unawareness about how this has developed and the work behind it.

- There are misconceptions that we have few animals, small populations and a climate that limit disease spread, or that we do not treat our sick animals, says Susanna Sternberg Lewerin, one of the authors of the report.

- The report gives a good understanding of the situation, describes the knowledge and experiences, good as well as bad, that have been gained during all the years we have worked for a responsible antibiotic use, says Johanna Grundin, one of the authors of the report.

This report can therefore serve as support when Swedish researchers participate in international projects on antibiotic use and preventive animal health work.

- We need to explain the situation, they both say.

Sweden is a role model and should strive for continued leadership internationally

Swedish animal production is characterized by strong protection of animals and good animal welfare, and Sweden is a world leader in prudent use of antibiotics while at the same time keeping the animals healthy. This makes us an important role model in the world and it is in line with the updated Swedish antibiotic strategy (in Swedish). Our expertise is requested and used internationally. According to the government, Sweden must continue to show leadership in the international work, within the framework of Agenda 2030 (in Swedish).

The report

Authors: Johanna Grundin, Isabel Blanco-Penedo, Nils Fall och Susanna Sternberg Lewerin.

Download and read the report:  "The Swedish experience"
– a summary of the Swedish efforts towards a low and prudent use of antibiotics in animal production

 

 

Facts:

In 1986, Sweden, as the first country in the world banned all use of antibiotics as growth promoters in food animal production. Today Sweden has the third lowest sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents for food producing animals in Europe. In 2018, total sales of antibiotics for animal use in Sweden were 10 042 kg active substance as compared to 53.4 tonnes in 1984 (before the ban). The low use of antibiotics in animals and the comparatively favorable situation in Sweden regards to antibiotic resistance are the results of decades of inter-sectorial collaboration and work on disease prevention and animal health.

This report is a summary of the Swedish work towards a low and prudent use of antibiotics in Swedish production animals and a discussion about important success factors as well as lessons learned.

Page editor: eva-stina.lindell@slu.se