On Tuesday 11th October, Zac Goldsmith MP tabled an Early Day Motion (number 488) on farm antibiotics with the support of five sponsors: former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman (Con), former Shadow Defra Secretary Kerry McCarthy (Lab), David Warburton (Con), Margaret Ritchie (SDLP), and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.
Unusually the EDM is demanding action not from the government, but from supermarkets, calling on them to take action on antibiotics by:
adopting publicly available policies on veterinary antibiotic use within their supply chains;
prohibiting routine mass-medication of livestock;
and committing to drastic reductions to farm use of the ‘critically important’ antibiotics.
In a welcome show of cross-party consensus, these MPs are sending a very clear message: supermarkets must now show leadership on this issue, and use their vast buying power to protect public health.
ROUTINE PREVENTATIVE USE OF ANTIBIOTICS IN SUPERMARKET SUPPLY CHAINS
That this House expresses concern about recent findings of high levels of antibiotic-resistant e.coli and MRSA on British supermarket meat, of UK origin; 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 antibiotic prophylaxis, routine preventative use; notes 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; believes that the adoption of higher welfare farming practices must be central to any successful strategy to reduce farm antibiotic use; and calls on all UK supermarkets to adopt a publicly available policy on antibiotic use within their supply chains, prohibiting routine mass-medication of livestock and committing to drastic reductions in farm use of the critically important antibiotics.