Zac Goldsmith, the former Tory MP for Richmond Park, has tabled an early day motion (EDM) expressing concern about recent findings of high levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria E.coli and methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on British supermarket meat. The EDM – which promotes a particular issue of concern to MPs – also welcomes the commitment of the Foods Standards Agency to work with UK food retailers to reduce farm antibiotic use and Waitrose’s recently updated policy which prohibits the routine use of antibiotics or as prophylactics. There is cross party support for the EDM, including from Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion.
The EDM was submitted after a recent study commissioned by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics and conducted by the University of Cambridge. It revealed the presence of E.coli bacteria resistant to three important antibiotics across UK origin pig and chicken meat from supermarkets.
The alliance – which includes Surrey based Compassion in World Farming – argues that this revelation, along with the discovery in October of MRSA on UK supermarket pork, provides further evidence that the overuse of antibiotics in intensive farming is fuelling the emergence of resistant bacteria and undermining the treatment of dangerous bacterial infections in humans.
On the back of these findings, the EDM says that the systematic overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is contributing to the emergence of antibiotic resistance in human bacterial infections; considers the routine preventative mass medication of animals to be unacceptable practice; and thinks that the adoption of higher welfare farming practices must be central to any successful strategy to reduce farm antibiotic use.
Mr Goldsmith said: “The recent revelation of multi drug resistant bacteria in supermarket meat lends a new urgency to the need for supermarkets to tackle antibiotic overuse in their supply chains. The routine preventative mass medication of animals should have no place in the supply chain of any responsible retailer. I have no doubt that UK supermarkets will rise to this challenge, and will strive to ensure that the destruction of our antibiotics does not happen on their watch.”
The alliance is encouraging individuals to contact their local MP and request that they sign the EDM.