A group of MPs has called for the curtailing of the “systematic overuse” of antibiotics in supermarket meat supply chains.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith tabled an early day motion (EDM) calling on UK supermarkets to adopt policies prohibiting routine mass-medication of livestock because of the emergence of antibiotic resistant bugs.
The motion has so far received the support of 21 MPs from across the parties.
Goldsmith tabled the EDM after a report found resistant E. coli in supermarket pig and poultry meat. The report, commissioned by campaign group Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said the E. coli was resistant to three families of antibiotics that were particularly important in treating human E. coli infections.
In a statement on his website Goldsmith also highlighted the discovery of MRSA in supermarket pork this October.
He 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.”
The EDM said the use of “high welfare farming practices” was crucial to the reduction of antibiotics use, and praised work already done by the Food Standards Agency and the supermarket Waitrose in reducing their use.
EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Although very few are actually ever debated, they allow MPs to show their support for events or causes.
Concerns about the overuse of antibiotics is not new; last month the UN held a summit in New York on antimicrobial resistance, and in August a charity called on McDonalds to end the use of antibiotics in its supply chain.
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