EU antibiotics announcement

EU takes bold action and leads battle against antibiotic overuse in farmed animals


The overuse of antibiotics is resulting in a global public health crisis.

On the 28th January 2022, the European Union’s new laws come into force, banning farmed animals from being routinely fed a diet of antibiotics – a move that we consider to be the most progressive in the world.  

Across Europe, there are more than 300 million caged farmed animals1 and 7.2 billion meat chickens2 produced each year. The majority of these animals suffer in factory farms where they are dosed with antibiotics in their feed or water to prevent them succumbing to disease as a result of cruel treatment.

These new regulations mean that only sick, individual animals (and not whole herds) may be administered antibiotics. It is now illegal to use antibiotics to compensate for low welfare practices

The overuse of antibiotics is resulting in a global public health crisis3, with as many as 3,500 human deaths worldwide from antimicrobial resistant infections (superbugs) on a daily basis4.

Around three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used on farmed animals5 especially on cruel factory farms. In contrast, animals living in high welfare farms are healthier and more resilient to disease, and are not reliant on antibiotics.  
As Europe is the world’s biggest importer of food, these new regulations will also have implications globally, as the bloc will also reject imports of live animals or animal products where antibiotics have been used to promote fast growth of animals.  

It is imperative the European Union fully implements and enforces the new rules for animal production within Europe, and with trade partners.

Dr. Victor Yamo, Farming Campaigns Manager, World Animal Protection said:

“This very welcome move from the EU is an important step to address the global superbug crisis and others must follow suit. Superbugs emerge due to the overuse of antibiotics on animals in factory farms who are processed through systems designed to maximise efficiency and profit, at the expense of their welfare needs, denying natural behaviours and trapping them in appalling conditions.

“We’re calling on the African governments and policy makers to follow the EU’s lead and ban routine use. Raising animal welfare on farms is vital to reducing antibiotic use and helping prevent antibiotic resistance which the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates will kill 10 million people a year by 20506.”  

We are calling for the end of factory farming, by calling on governments to stop approving new factory farms. Farmed animals should instead be raised in cruelty-free, humane and sustainable systems where their needs are fully met. This will ensure they are more resilient to disease, and routine dosing with antibiotics will not be required.

New EU farming regulations

Two new EU regulations have been adopted and come into force on the 28th of January, 2022.

  1. EU Regulation on Veterinary Medicinal Products
  2. EU Regulation on Medicated Feed


1Euro News, European Parliament overwhelmingly backs ban on caged animal farming

2FAO Stat 2018

3WHO has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity

4 The Lancet, Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis

5World Economic Forum, Three-quarters of antibiotics are used on animals. Here’s why that’s a major problem, 24 Nov 2017

6 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Antimicrobial resistance: tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations. Chaired by Jim O’Neill. 2014.

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“Antimicrobial medicinal products shall not be applied routinely nor used to compensate for poor hygiene, inadequate animal husbandry or lack of care or to compensate for poor farm management.

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