Consumers are sensitive to the use of antibiotics in the production of food animals, and fear of residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria in their food supply have driven consumers to shun particular products. This happens not just at the producer level, but to entire regions, countries, and species of farmed seafood. Some consumer concerns are being addressed with various certification programs, but even with such certification, customer trust may be hard to earn in countries in which industry is notorious for using much more antibiotics than do other producers in different parts of the world.
Disease should never be considered “normal” Most producers would agree that the use of antibiotics is something they would like to avoid, but for some, it’s viewed as a necessary evil to stay viable. Although there are times when it is needed, its use never should become a common production practice. It should just be a tool for giving the operator a second chance at fixing problems in their production. Some diseases in farming may be common, but they should never be considered “normal.” Viewing disease as abnormal should result in a review of one’s husbandry practices, production inputs, and use of equipment and infrastructure. Having in-house talent, experienced service providers, or a combination of both involved in reviewing the implications of production method on fish health are important for mitigating the risk of disease and the need to use antibiotics. The best companies in industry accomplish this with a holistic approach to fish health, which comes in part from an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the disease triangle and how it can be manipulated.