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Multiexport Foods is first to win ‘antibiotic-free’ approval

The Pilolcura site in Los Lagos region is the first in Chile to earn Sernapesca's PROA certification. Photo: Multiexport Foods.
The Pilolcura site in Los Lagos region is the first in Chile to earn Sernapesca's PROA certification. Photo: Multiexport Foods.

A salmon farm run by Multiexport Foods has become the first in Chile to be certified free of antibiotic (also known as antimicrobials) by state aquaculture agency Sernapesca.

The Pilolcura site in Los Lagos region was accredited under the agency’s Programme for the Optimisation of the Use of Antimicrobials (PROA), which confirms that fish production is free from the use of both antibiotics and, in the case of Pilolcura, also antiparasitics.

“The recent program initiated by Sernapesca seeks to promote awareness about the responsible and efficient use of antibiotics, promoting good practices for their use through the dissemination and incorporation of recommendations related to health management,” Multiexport Foods said in a press release.

Prioritising sustainability

Multiexport’s health manager, Alejandro Heisinger, said: “Our company always has the sustainability of its operations as a priority, and that is how the company has been working for several years with a strong commitment to reduce the use of antibiotics in our fish.

“This certification is thanks to the good health management, effort and commitment of Multiexport to reduce the consumption of antimicrobials in our operations. In addition, we are in the process of adding other farm sites to this important accreditation, which we hope will happen as soon as possible.”

PROA is also framed within guidelines established by international technical organisations that seek to reduce the use of antibiotics in food industries. These include the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE); the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

SRS

Salmon farmers in Chile, and to a lesser extent in Canada, have used more antibiotics over the last few years than farmers in Scotland and particularly in Norway, where antibiotic use is rare.

This is partly because of the much higher prevalence of salmon rickettsial syndrome (SRS) in the Americas. SRS has proved difficult to vaccinate against, but farmers are now using other ways to tackle it.

These include selecting naturally resistant broodstock and combining high-performance diets with faster growing fish to shorten the time fish are exposed to disease in the sea.

293.6 grams per tonne

Early testing for disease can also help, leading to timely treatment which can cut antibiotic usage.

According to the Chilean Salmon Antibiotic Reduction Programme (CSARP), run by producers in conjunction with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch initiative, Chilean farmed salmon had an antibiotic usage of 293.6 grams per harvested tonne in 2019, down from 412.8 grams in 2017.

The industry wants to lower that figure to just over 200 grams by 2025.