Pharmaceuticals giant BASF has launched livestock feed additive Formi, a substitute for the antibiotics routinely fed as growth promoters to pigs in this country.
Critics of antibiotic growth promoters (agps) have long claimed these feed additives pose a risk to consumers, because residues in the meat can make the human body resistant to the therapeutic effects of some medicines.
The EU has a programme for compulsory phasing out agps, but the British pig industry has been noticeably slower than the Danes and Dutch in abandoning them.
Despite warnings of a consumer backlash, as has happened in the US and Australia, farmers in this country claim agps are essential to prevent feed conversion and growth rate deterioration increasing further their cost disadvantage against rivals.
Frank Wright, the BASF arm marketing Formi, says this potassium-derived product can achieve results similar to the effects of the antibiotics. Nutrient absorption and anti-microbial influence are said to boost pig production efficiency, with reduced environmental pollution.