Campaigners have urged the UK’s biggest eight supermarkets to ensure responsible antibiotic use for meat and dairy products after research has exposed that the policy has not adequately covered all products.
According to a report by Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, not all animal-based foods are covered by antibiotic policies such as imported, branded or processed products.
The news comes amid fears in the scientific community that antibiotic resistance caused by the overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock has grown at a faster rate than expected.
In 2019 antibiotic misuse was directly linked to 1.25 million human deaths globally and indirectly linked to almost 5 million people, the Lancet medical journal has revealed.
The petition calls on retailers to cover all products regardless of origin, and for firms to only sell branded products that have been produced with the responsible use of antibiotics.
“This is particularly important now that government is seeking to reach new trade deals with non-EU countries which often have weak regulations governing farm antibiotic use,” the alliance’s scientific advisor Cóilín Nunan said.
“All ten leading supermarkets now have a prohibition on routine preventative antibiotic use for most or all of their British, own-brand fresh produce.”
Nunan added: “However, our latest review found that these improvements did not cover the full range of products sold in the supermarkets. In particular they frequently did not apply to some or all imported, processed or branded products.”
The petition comes as extensive animal abuse reports have pushed consumers to boycott the dairy industry.