UK – Campaign groups have raised concerns about the insufficient efforts made by hospital and school caterers in the UK to curb antibiotic overuse in animals, a practice that significantly heightens the risk of antibiotic resistance.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has collaborated with the Food Fraud Working Group to tackle this pressing issue, emphasizing the urgent need for stringent controls.

Campaigners analyzed policies of ten prominent UK caterers and found a lack of robust antibiotic use regulations, allowing weak or absent controls on the use of antibiotics in animal farming.

This alarming oversight heightens the risk of antibiotic resistance, rendering vital medicines ineffective and jeopardizing human health.

While the government, caterers, and suppliers advocate for voluntary measures, campaigners argue that stronger regulations are imperative, according to BBC News.

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) cites a decline in antibiotic use in food-producing animals since 2014, yet campaigners contend that further stringent measures are crucial to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics (ASOA) expressed concern over the lack of mandatory regulations in the government’s public sector procurement standards. The absence of stringent controls allows companies to operate with limited oversight, leading to potential antibiotic misuse.

Global consequences

The misuse of antibiotics in animal farming contributes significantly to the emergence of superbugs, bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment. Worldwide, efforts are underway to limit antibiotic use, both in human medicine and agriculture, to address this escalating concern.

Some catering companies, including Aramark, CH&CO, Compass Group UK, and Sodexo, have expressed their commitment to combating inappropriate antibiotic use.

They have assured compliance with government buying standards and industry regulations, pledging to work with suppliers adhering to stringent standards.

Critically, campaigners argue that the government possesses considerable purchasing power, which could be used to enforce better controls on antibiotic use through public service contracts.

The lack of unified efforts, according to experts, underscores a need for a more cohesive approach in addressing this vital issue, emphasizing the urgent necessity of stricter regulations in the food industry to protect both public health and animal welfare.

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