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Farm animals antibiotics data raises post-Brexit trade fears

Source: The Guardian

Use of antibiotics on farms in US and Canada about five times the UK level, says report…

The overuse of antibiotics on farm animals is rife in some of the key countries with which the UK is hoping to strike a post-Brexit trade deal, a new report shows, raising fears that future deals will jeopardise public health and British farming.

The US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all allow farmers to feed antibiotics routinely to livestock to make them grow faster, and in the US and Canada farm antibiotic use is about five times the level in the UK, data compiled by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics shows.

Meat produced in this way is cheaper, because the animals grow faster and can be kept in overcrowded conditions. But the meat is soon to be banned in the EU, for safety and public health reasons.

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Some British supermarkets are still allowing suppliers to use routine antibiotics

Three British supermarkets are still allowing their suppliers to use antibiotics routinely in animal feed and drinking water, according to a new report by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics [1]. The continued misuse of antibiotics in some supermarket supply chains is occurring despite calls from the United Nations and the World Health Organization to end the overuse of antibiotics in farming [2][3].

The Alliance assessed the publicly available antibiotics policies of the 10 leading British supermarkets and found that Aldi, Asda and Iceland have no restrictions on their meat, dairy and egg suppliers using antibiotics routinely, other than minimum legal requirements. In contrast, the Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose prohibit routine antibiotic use, whereas Morrisons has a ban for some species and not for others.

In the UK, the Brexit process involves, amongst other things, the transfer of European legislation into UK law – a process which has followed a stop-start pattern for most of this year.

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Credit: Alliance to Save our Antibiotics (Image: WHO)

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