FSA to cut antibiotics

9 Sep 2016

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has pledged to cut the use of antibiotics on farms following the discovery of drug-resistant E.coli on UK supermarket chicken and pork meat.

FSA to cut antibiotics

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has pledged to cut the use of antibiotics on farms following the discovery of drug-resistant E.coli on UK supermarket chicken and pork meat. The testing was commissioned by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics. The FSA has acknowledged the ‘significant threat’ to human health from antibiotic-resistant superbugs, and pledged to cut the use of antibiotics on farms.

“It's fantastic the FSA has pledged to work with food businesses and retailers to reduce farm antibiotic use,” said Emma Rose from the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics. “With antibiotic resistance predicted to kill one person every 3 seconds by 2050, the FSA must commit to ending the routine mass medication of groups of animals. Such practices are putting our health at risk - and should have no place in the supply chains of responsible UK supermarkets.”

“Worryingly and in contrast to the FSA response, the British Retail Consortium said yesterday that “Mass treatment of animals is not legally permitted.” This is, of course, incorrect. In fact, mass medication accounts for about 88% of UK farm antibiotic use, and is likely to be par-for-the-course within supermarket supply chains. Upon learning that they are mistaken in their assertion, I expect the BRC to call for a ban on the routine mass medication of groups of animals immediately.”

The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics is calling on people to write to all major supermarkets asking them to ban the routine use of antibiotics in their meat supply chains, and support farmers to make changes to their systems. Following the study, Waitrose updated its antibiotics policy to state that it is working towards significant year on year reductions in usage of all antibiotics, and have pledged to end the use of all ‘critically important’ antibiotics as soon as possible.

“For too long we have permitted the systematic overuse of antibiotics in our livestock systems,” said Zac Goldsmith MP. “The recent findings of E.coli resistant to multiple key antibiotics on supermarket meat is yet another sign of the consequences of this complacency. Antibiotic resistance is now predicted to kill one person every 3 seconds by 2050. Supermarkets, as the cornerstones of much of the UK meat and dairy supply chain, must now ask themselves whether they are doing everything in their power to avert this crisis.”

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is made up of 58 supporting members which represent a further 500+ organisations. Members span a wide range of medical, health, agricultural, environmental, consumer and animal welfare sectors from across the EU. The Alliance was founded by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain and supported by the Jeremy Coller Foundation.