Reduced Antibiotic Use Key to Competitiveness

CANADA - A Scientist with the University of Alberta says reducing antibiotic use in pork production will be key to maintaining the industry's global competitiveness.
calendar icon 19 May 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

Swine Innovation Porc has set the development of tools to reduce dependence on antibiotics as a top research priority and identified improved gut health as one option.

Dr Ben Willing, an Assistant Professor with the University of Alberta and Canada Research Chair in Microbiology of Nutrigenomics, says the industry is seeing the reduction of antibiotic use as something that is inevitable because of pressure to maintain competiveness within the global market to keep up with Europe and be able to hit the same markets.

Dr Ben Willing-University of Alberta:

The main opportunity that I see is the ability to remove prophylactic antibiotics or to reduce them and that's antibiotics that are being used with the expectation that some type of infection is coming.

Things like E. coli are always lurking and trying to cause some level of damage.

There's a growing body of research that associate what microbes are present in the gut.

The healthy bugs are associated with resistance to infections.

The other thing that we see is that anything that associates with a healthy barrier prevents those pathogenic organisms from actually attaching and being able to do their damage.

The first one that we've kind of understood for a long time is that it's an aspect of competitive exclusion.

The healthy bugs are just simply outcompeting pathogens that come in, for nutrients and space and they can also even produce antimicrobial molecules.

Its like microbial warfare and they can actually kill or at least inhibit the pathogenic organisms that come in.

Dr Willing says there is a lot of excitement about the prospects of promoting a healthy gut and healthy populations of bacteria but reducing antibiotic dependence will require a multipronged approach.

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