The European Parliament has adopted plans to limit the use of antibiotics on farms, in order to keep food free from resistant bacteria.
The agreement with EU ministers was adopted with 583 votes to 16 and 20 abstentions.
The new law would limit the use of antimicrobials as a preventive measure, in the absence of clinical signs of infection (known as prophylactic use) to single animals and not groups. The drugs can be used only when fully justified by a veterinarian in cases where there is a high risk of infection. Metaphylactic use (i.e. treating a group of animals when one shows signs of infection) should be a last resort, and only occur once a veterinarian has diagnosed infection and prescribed the antimicrobials. To help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the law would empower the European Commission to select antimicrobials to be reserved only for treating humans.
In a separate vote, Members of the European Parliament also approved, by 583 votes in favour to 31 against and 6 abstentions, new rules on more responsible ways to produce, sell and use medicated feed to tackle the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
The agreement still has to be formally adopted by Council before publication on the Official Journal.