Veterinarians play key role in judicious use of antimicrobials following McDonald’s announcement on use of antibiotics
Friday 6 March 2015
Yesterday fast food restaurant McDonald’s announced that it will only source animals raised without antibiotics that are
important to human health, highlighting the key role veterinarians play in judicious use of antimicrobials to combat the
rise of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
New Zealand is a world leader in the prudent and highly regulated use of antimicrobials. Antibiotics used in animals are
regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and are registered for use for the treatment of animal disease.
Antibiotics play a vital role in keeping animals healthy and protecting their welfare. In both pets and livestock, these
products treat and control infections that threaten life and productivity, providing significant benefit to both the
animals receiving treatment and the people looking after them. New Zealand is different to some overseas countries, in
that antibiotics are not permitted to be used for the purpose of growth promotion here.
Access to antibiotics is restricted in New Zealand and are only available after veterinary consultation and
The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is a strong advocate for the prudent use of these medicines and we see
ourselves as having a stewardship role to play. Antimicrobial usage should always be part of an integrated disease
control programme, not a replacement for one and should include attention to hygiene, disinfection procedures,
biosecurity measures, changes in stocking rates and vaccination across companion and farm animals.
Dr Dennis Scott, Chair of the New Zealand Veterinary Association Anti-microbial Resistance Working Group says:
“Antimicrobial resistance is a key priority for the NZVA and we are working alongside MPI and other industry partners to
develop a national strategy to address this global concern.”
“We recognise that use of antimicrobial medicines for treating disease in humans and animals has seen major improvements
in human and animal health, and in quality of life, for over more than half a century. They must continue to effectively
treat bacterial infections as they are critical in guarding and supporting the health and welfare of humans and animals.
All veterinarians have a role to play in ensuring the careful use of antimicrobials so that they will remain effective
for treating infections.”
About the NZVA
The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is the only membership association representing New Zealand veterinarians.
With over 2000 members we are the leading voice for veterinarians working in all disciplines where animals, humans and
the environment intersect. Our work ensures our members’ contribution to the country's economy and international status,
food safety and animal health and welfare is of the highest quality, recognised and valued.
NZVA policy on Judicious Use of Antimicrobials
Animal and human health has always been interlinked and bacteria that are resistant to drug therapy can be passed from
animals to humans, and vice versa. Therefore veterinarians and human health physicians have an obligation to continue to
work together on this key issue.
Antimicrobials is the general term that covers anti-bacterials (commonly known as antibiotics), anti-virals,
anti-fungals and anti-protozoals.