STC Number - 64

Ban on antibiotics in feed

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: Australia; Canada
First date raised: July 1999 G/SPS/R/15 paras. 26-29
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0511 Animal products not elsewhere specified or included; dead animals of Chapter 1 or 3, unfit for human consumption.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Food safety; Human health; Transparency; Zoonoses
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In July 1999, the United States noted the failure of the European Communities to notify its ban on four antibiotics used in animal feed to enhance production. The European Communities had adopted this measure in December 1998. The representative of the United States stressed that such actions with trade implications should be notified, in advance, to allow time for comments before going into effect. The United States shared the EC concerns over an increase in antibiotic resistance due to antibiotics in feed; it was working on this issue and was building a data base to gather world-wide data on the existence and extent of this problem. The transparency obligations had to be honoured in order to ensure appropriate input on the scientific basis for measures, and to allow for exchange of risk assessments and other scientific information.

The representatives of Canada and Australia shared the US concerns in this area. The representative of Canada indicated that according to his understanding the EC measure had been taken on a provisional basis. Canada requested to be informed when the European Communities reviewed the provisional measure. The Canadian representative also asked the European Communities to share its scientific findings. The representative of Australia indicated that a major inquiry on antibiotic resistance, which might be of interest to Members, was nearing finalization in Australia.

The representative of the European Communities replied that on 17 December 1998, the Council of Ministers had adopted a regulation by which it suspended the use of four antibiotics in feeding stuffs. Regarding follow-up to the measure, this was an interim protective measure which would be re-examined before the end of December 2000, by which time more information on the subject should be available from different investigations and a surveillance programme on microbiological resistance in animals. The measure was in line with conclusions from three different meetings on antibiotics, including the WHO conference held in Berlin in October 1997, the conference on antibiotic resistance held in Copenhagen in September 1997, and the position of the OIE according to which antibiotic resistance was a major international problem. The Scientific Steering Committee approved a scientific opinion on the matter in May 1999, which was published on the internet in June ( The results of the re-examination of the issue would be shared with Members and published electronically as all scientific decisions.

Regarding transparency, the measure was not notified because it did not contain any provision applicable to imports, and therefore had no impact on trade. Animal and animal product imports would not be affected. Since the adoption of Directive 75/24 concerning additives in animal nutrition, a ban on an additive had never had a direct consequence for animal or feed imports. Although it had not been notified, the decision had been available on the internet and all Members had been informed in due time. The European Communities was looking forward to results from different studies undertaken in the United States, including by the FDA and the Center for Disease Control. He agreed that this was an area where sharing information should be helpful to finding future solutions, although perceptions of the urgency of the matter differed.