1112How do we reduce our consumption of antibiotics in livestock?13banned the use1415larger for higher-incomehigher levels of meat
Additional discussion: How to reduce antibiotic use Van Boeckel et al. (2017) projects that under expected rates of antibiotic use and growth in global meat consumption, antibiotic use will increase to just over 200,000 tonnes in 2030 (here, termed ‘business-as-usual’). There are two key mechanisms by which we can reduce total antibiotic consumption: decrease the quantity of antibiotic use per unit (kilogram) of meat production; and/or decrease our overall meat consumption. Van Boeckel et al. (2017) analysed a range of reduction scenarios to see how effective each would be in reducing total antibiotic use.16 These reduction scenarios are based on two options for reduction: either setting a limit on rates of antibiotic use to 50 milligrams per kilogram of meat (a target now adopted by several European countries); or reducing overall meat consumption per capita. A highly ambitious meat reduction target to 40 grams per person per day has been proposed (which is in line with China’s more recent meat guidelines), or alternatively a less stringent reduction to 165 grams per person (the projected EU average level in 2030). Below we look at how either of these options may be achieved. Different approaches to reduction have variable levels of effectiveness. The scenarios in the chart are ordered by increasing effectiveness. These are:
- achieving a global level of meat consumption of 165 grams per person per day (the projected average level of meat consumption in the EU in 2030) would reduce antibiotic use by 22 percent;
- setting a limit of antibiotic use in OECD countries and China of 50 milligrams per kilogram of meat (50mg/PCU) would reduce consumption by 60 percent. Van Boeckel et al. (2017) suggest this approach to achieve large reductions in antibiotic use without targeting farmers in lower-income countries who rely on livestock rearing for subsistence;
- extending this 50 milligrams per kilogram (50mg/PCU) limit to a global level would reduce consumption by 64 percent;
- the most effective approach would be to achieve a global average level of meat consumption of 40 grams per person per day (this is the guideline currently applied in China).17 This would achieve a 66 percent reduction.