Shoppers demand supermarkets end antibiotics misuse in all meat products
Shoppers call on supermarkets to make sure antibiotics have been used appropriately in the production of all animal products they sell. Research has 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 Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics’ report, Resistance & Responsibility, reveals that not all animal foods on the shelves are covered by the supermarkets’ antibiotics policies. Often imported, branded or processed products 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 it 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 has 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.”
Almost 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on the big eight UK supermarkets to ban farm antibiotic misuse from their stores. The Alliance has today 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.”