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Antimicrobial Stewardship PROGRAM

The Australian chicken meat industry is fully committed to addressing the global threat of antibiotic resistance. It is an issue that everyone, from the medical profession through to all food industries, has a role to play. Any effective response to the issue of antibiotic resistance requires a ‘One Health’ approach: coordinated action across all sectors, including human health, where antibiotics are used. in the country, as well as close coordination with global action.

When it comes to antibiotic stewardship, Australia’s poultry industry is world-leading. Even as far back as 1987, industry codes of practice for the responsible prescription of antibiotics have been in place, which have since been revised many times over and incorporated into the veterinary prescription guidelines. Importantly, the Australian chicken meat industry was the first livestock sector to have adopted formal antimicrobial stewardship programs (AMS).

Download Antimicrobial Stewardship Report

Our AMS program, formalised in 1987, has been adapted to fit the operations of each chicken meat company. It is underpinned by what we call the five Rs



With prescription and usage



Improved husbandry practices and biosecurity



Targeted usage of the most appropriate drug



Finding alternatives such as vaccination



Constant review based on data

An independent review of these programs in 2019 found that the companies have either a mature, robust animal health or AMS program in place that apply appropriate use and AMS principles and are subject to regular review.

Over the past few decades, the Australian chicken meat industry has participated in a number of properly designed, nationally representative surveys for antimicrobial resistance in bacteria in chickens and chicken meat products. In particular, two large-scale surveys have been completed in the past five years. The report on the first of these, undertaken in collaboration with the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with funding from the Animal Biosecurity and Response Reform Program, was published on the ACMF’s website in 2018. The survey represented the most comprehensive data set on the level of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) found in bacteria in Australian meat chicken flocks.

Download Surveillance for antimicrobial resistance in enteric commensals and pathogens in Australian meat chickens 2018

The most recently completed survey, which replicated that earlier study and was funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and AgriFutures Australia, was completed in 2022.

Download Surveillance for antimicrobial resistance in enteric commensals and pathogens in Australian meat chickens 2022

It is expected that the results of this survey will also be published in the peer reviewed literature in due course.

The results of both of these surveys show that the Australian chicken meat industry is in an enviable position globally with low and improved levels of AMR and, importantly, low levels of resistance to antimicrobials that are priorities for use in human health. 

In addition to these surveys, the ACMF coordinates an antimicrobial usage survey of the six major Australian chicken companies with data collected since 2017. We provide context for the data with an ‘Appropriateness of Use Survey’ repeated annually.

Download Chicken Meat AM Usage Appropriateness Survey 2020

We also support the comprehensive review launched in 2022 by the national food regulator, FSANZ, looking at antibiotic resistant bacteria in the Australian food supply.