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Antibiotic misuse could be infiltrating supermarket shelves

Posted: 18 November 2021 | | No comments yet

The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics has expressed concern that trade talks with between the UK and over countries could lead to products manufactured with different antibiotics policies making their way onto shelves.

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Meat, dairy and eggs produced with the misuse of antibiotics could still be making its way on to UK supermarket shelves, according to a new report launched today by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.

The report claims that despite some improvements in supermarket antibiotic policies, most imports and branded products are not covered by the supermarket’s own rules for responsible antibiotic use. Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics says this means that there is no reliable way for shoppers to avoid buying food produced with “irresponsible antibiotic use.”

The Alliance has assessed the publicly available antibiotic policies of the UK’s ten leading supermarkets and found that they all now have a policy aimed at ending routine preventative antibiotic use in their supply chains. However, the Alliance claims that most supermarkets only apply their antibiotic policies to some or all of their own-brand products. Some policies only cover own-brand fresh meat, dairy and eggs of UK origin, leaving frozen produce, ready meals, ingredients and branded produce with no restrictions on antibiotic use, other than minimum legal standards.

“Supermarkets have a responsibility to ensure that all meat, dairy and eggs they sell is produced without misusing antibiotics and comes from farms with good husbandry,” said Suzi Shingler, Campaign Manager at the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.

“The current mishmash of rules means that consumers cannot tell whether this is the case or not. Some imported food may even be produced by using antibiotics to make animals grow faster, a practice which has been banned in the UK for 15 years. 

“As the UK is seeking to reach new trade deals with non-EU countries, it is more important than ever to have the same standards for imported and British produce. That’s why, today, the Alliance has launched a petition urging supermarkets to apply their rules for responsible antibiotic use to all animal products sold in their stores.”

There is concern around the trade talks the UK is currently entering into around antibiotics policy. Some countries, such as Australia, use certain antibiotics for growth promotion, a practice that is banned in the UK. The ban on growth promoters does not apply to imported food, a loophole which the Alliance claims neither the government nor most of the supermarkets are addressing.

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