Dutch authorities seized 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) of illegal antibiotics that may have been meant for use as a growth promoter in animal feed, the Netherlands’ food safety authority reported.
The cargo of virginiamycin, an antibiotic that has been banned for feed use by the European Union, was found during a search of a transhipment company in the southern Netherlands, the authority said in an online statement today.
The EU’s ban on antibiotics as growth promoters in farm animals has reduced productivity for livestock breeders in the 27-nation bloc by about 5 percent compared with the rest of the world, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health, or OIE.
“A first review shows the illegal goods were possibly destined to be processed as growth promoters in animal feeds,” the food-safety authority wrote. “It can’t be ruled out that previously illegal antibiotics were imported and processed via this route. The legal inquiry will have to determine this.”
The EU banned the use of virginiamycin in feed because it can result in antibiotic resistance of bacteria, the food-safety authority wrote. The drug is allowed in some countries outside the EU, meaning transhipment through the bloc is possible on the conditions authorities are notified, it said.
“These illegal antibiotics came to light after indications from Belgian authorities that possibly a large shipment of illegal goods would be sold in the Netherlands,” the safety authority said.
Livestock and poultry farmers across the world should reduce the preventive use of antibiotics and avoid feeding them as growth promoters to combat rising resistance of bacteria to the medicines, the OIE said in January.