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Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS)
FAFS Efforts towards "Antibiotic Free" Feed  to Save Lives and Environment
Dr. Houssam Shaib explains below FAFS’s take on Antibiotic use in animal feed farms and its responsibility and continuous efforts towards food safety.

The problem of emergence of Antibiotic resistance in pathogens that are found in animals and food products is a serious issue in Lebanon. FAFS, mainly the Departments of Agriculture and Nutrition and Food Sciences at AUB have tackled this issue, decades ago. In this context, FAFS has an extensive research on the genetic mechanism of resistance development, the wrong managerial practices lying behind it and the alternatives to replace Antimicrobial Growth Promoters (AGP) with natural products. Since the late eighties, the efficiency of several herb extracts, herbal products and essential oil of plants, as antimicrobials, was assessed. This research involved both indigenous and exotic plants. Lots of water, methanol and ethanol extracts, of local Lebanese flora such as calendula, centaurea, alchemilla, and others, were proven to have antiviral, and antibacterial efficacy against major poultry and livestock pathogens. In addition, essential oils of specific plants were highly efficient as coccidiostats, growth promoters, and in treatment of several poultry diseases. Most of these works are published in peer reviewed journals.

FAFS also emphasized the role of biosecurity as a key to reduce the use of antimicrobials. In its teaching program, principles of biosecurity in animal and poultry farms are being extensively taught in the curriculum of graduate and undergraduate courses such as Agricultural microbiology (AVSC 224), Diseases of Livestock (AVSC 305), Diseases of Poultry (AVSC 306), Food Microbiology (NFSC 277-278).

All of this information, was not kept at the academic level. AUB graduates, in the fields of Animal and Poultry Sciences, and Food industry, are pioneers in the application of the above concepts in their own business domain. The World Rehabilitation fund project in Jezzine area was supervised by an AUB faculty member for the proper application of biosecurity measures and utilization of natural products in production of backyard broilers and layers, to avoid the use of AGP in feed. The project is now a success, and tens of families are now benefiting from these farms. Other faculty members are well known for their significant contribution in spreading the knowledge among farmers, retailers, veterinarians, and consumers regarding the emergence of resistance in animal pathogens as a result of antimicrobials mis-use, through agricultural extensions, seminars and workshops.

Moreover, the situation of microbial resistance to antimicrobials, in Lebanon, is mainly assessed at the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, besides the AUB Medical Center. This subject has been the core of MS thesis of different students, and is a routine practice in FAFS labs.

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