21st June 2023

A recent report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that a major meat supplier to UK supermarkets is sourcing chickens from farms that use fluoroquinolone antibiotics, drugs which are classified as “critically important for human health” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report also states that the Polish meat supplier, SuperDrob, was linked to a salmonella outbreak in 2020, which ‘involved bacteria resistant to multiple drugs.’

These claims are very concerning. Outbreaks of salmonella infection from supermarket meat point to the possibility of cross-contamination through poor hygiene practices in the food production system, which could obviously have serious ramifications for human health.

Meanwhile, the routine practice of feeding farm animals antibiotics that are critically important to treat bacterial infections in humans must be stopped globally – and as a matter of urgency. Exposing microorganisms to antibiotics leads them to render treatments less effective at best and ineffective at worst. Micro-organisms that develop resistance in animals end up in the environment and in humans – posing a significant, and escalating, threat to health – with antibiotic resistance already contributing to the death of about 5 million people every year.

This report shows that regulation and legislation might not be enough – unless backed up with enforcement, consumer consciousness, and the power of supermarkets to demand change through their supply chains.

Read more: The awkward truth about the food on our table, by Baroness Natalie Bennett


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