A petition signed by 30,000 people and delivered today has called on UK supermarkets to be clear and consistent on their antibiotic policies for all meat products. The campaign has been supported by TV’s Dr Chris van Tulleken who warns of the catastrophic risk of antibiotic resistance to human health.
Research from the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics revealed that most UK supermarkets do not have the policies in place to stop meat, dairy and eggs produced with the misuse of antibiotics ending up on shelves. The Resistance & Responsibility report revealed that not all animal foods on the shelves are covered by the supermarkets’ antibiotics policies.
Imported, branded or processed products often aren’t covered meaning that the supermarkets could be selling meat, dairy or eggs produced with the misuse of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance, caused by the overuse of antibiotics in humans and farm animals, is increasing at a faster rate than previously realised.
As recently reported in the medical journal The Lancet, in 2019 antibiotic resistance was directly responsible for the deaths of more than one and a quarter million people worldwide and linked with the deaths of nearly five million people.
TV doctor Chris van Tulleken supported the campaign and said: “As an infectious disease doctor I know that growing antibiotic resistance is one of the major public health threats that we face and I know that the best way of combating it will be to get antibiotics out of our food chain. What this will require is a renewed effort from all of our food retailers. It is essential that we do this because if we don’t the effect could be even larger than those of Covid-19.”
You can watch Dr van Tulleken's full statement here
The Alliance today [18 February 2022] handed in the petition to eight UK supermarkets calling on them to urgently improve the scope of their antibiotics policies. The supermarkets are: Aldi; Asda; Co-op; Lidl; Morrisons; Sainsbury’s; Tesco; and Waitrose. It asks each to ensure their antibiotics policies cover all animal products, regardless of country of origin or product line; and only sell branded products that have been produced with the responsible use of antibiotics.
The Alliance’s Scientific Advisor Cóilín Nunan said: “Supermarkets need to ensure that the standards they set apply equally to imported and branded food. This is particularly important now that the UK government is seeking to reach new trade deals with non-EU countries, which often have weak regulations governing farm antibiotic use. All ten leading supermarkets now have a prohibition on routine preventative antibiotic use for most or all of their British, own-brand fresh produce. Supermarket actions have undoubtedly contributed to a significant reduction in British farm antibiotic use over the past six years, which is very welcome. However, our latest review found that for eight of the supermarkets these improvements did not cover the full range of products sold, and in particular they frequently did not apply to some or all imported, processed or branded products.”
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is an alliance of health, medical, civil society and animal welfare groups campaigning to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. It was founded by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain in 2009. Their vision is a world in which human and animal health and well-being are protected by food and farming systems that do not rely on routine antibiotic use.
Published 18 Feb 2022
Save Our Antibiotics: The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is a coalition of health, medical, environmental and animal welfare groups campaigning to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming.
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