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Antibiotics and Meat Chickens

Antibiotics are an invaluable resource for the industry to ensure that chickens keep or regain their health. Both in human and in animal health applications of antibiotics, development of resistance to antibiotics is of concern. For this reason, antibiotics of importance in human health are generally not registered for use in livestock and use of any antibiotics in animals has to be approved by the federal authority (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)). 

Associated with the use of antibiotics are often questions regarding possible residues on chicken meat and the concern that antibiotic resistance may develop.  These issues are discussed in the documents cited below.  Antibiotics may be used in chicken production under veterinary advice.  The National Residue Survey, managed by the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, conducts regular independent checks of residues of antibiotics in chicken meat in Australia.  This testing has consistently demonstrated the Australian chicken industry's enviable record in this respect, with chicken meat being fully compliant with the Australian Standards  for antimicrobial residues for the past 20 years.

Antibiotics registered for use in poultry have been in use for a long time and yet remain effective, with no significant resistance developing.  This is largely due to their judicious use by the industry.  A review by Dr Stephen Page undertaken on behalf of the Australian chicken meat industry provides further information on the judicious use of antibiotics in the Australian poultry industry.

The ACMF's position on Responsible Use of Antibiotics in the Australian Chicken Meat Industry can be viewed and downloaded here

Antibiotics, a consumer issue:

National Residue Survey (which demonstrates the absence of antibiotic residues in chicken meat):

ACMF Review - Judicious Use of Antimicrobial Agents, Dr Stephen Page, 2010.

Antimicrobial Resistance in Food studies undertaken by the Australian Government can be accessed through the links below:

Department of Health and the Ageing: Pilot survey for antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria in Australian food

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: Pilot Surveillance Program for Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria of Animal Origin


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