July 6, 2022
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian, has found that more than 10% of sampled pork products in UK supermarkets were infected with bacteria that is antibiotic-resistant, The Guardian reported.
The bacteria, a type of enterococci bacteria, can cause illnesses like wound and urinary tract infections. In the most severe circumstances, the bacteria can infect the heart, brain, and bloodstream. It is now resistant to some types of antibiotics.
The sample pork products include those with the "Red Tractor assured" label as well as organic and RSPCA-assured products.
Drug-resistant bacterial strains pose a serious threat to public health, and their prevalence is known to be increasing in Europe. Antibiotics have been used extensively in livestock production to treat and prevent disease, especially on factory farms, which is one of the main reasons bacteria are developing ways to avoid them.
Antibiotic resistance is now regarded as one of the biggest public health threats in the world, and these farms can serve as breeding grounds for human diseases that are potentially fatal and drug-resistant. According to a 2016 UK government review on antimicrobial resistance, superbugs kill at least 700,000 people annually around the world and if no action is taken, that number could increase to 10 million by 2050.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian were the only publications to receive the results of the new testing, which suggests that UK meat may contain more enterococci superbug than previously believed. In one out of every 100 pork and poultry products tested, according to a government study released in 2018. Even though organic farmers use a lot fewer antibiotics on their animals, the new tests still detected it in 13 of 103 samples and in organic meat.
The "worrying" revelations, according to experts, strengthened the case for increased surveillance.
Tim Lang, an emeritus professor of food policy at City University of London, said these findings suggest that antibiotic use is by no means under control in parts of the meat industry.
Red Tractor responded by stating that its accredited pig farms were required to use antibiotics responsibly and under a veterinarian's supervision.
The RSPCA said they hope and anticipate that higher welfare systems will necessitate less antimicrobial use, which will reduce the risk of the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Along with protecting human health, this would improve farm animal welfare.
Gareth Morgan, the head of farming policy at the Soil Association, said lower levels of antibiotic resistance in the organic produce can be explained by the very strong restrictions on antibiotic use in organic farming.
The government agency in charge of regulating antibiotic use on farms, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, issued a statement that said they are committed to reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics in animals and it remainstheir intention to strengthen our national law in this area.
The advocacy group World Animal Protection hired Fera Science to conduct what is thought to be the first study of its kind in the UK to look at the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant enterococci in pork produced under three different food assurance schemes as well as non-assured products.
Researchers purchased 103 samples of pork from Yorkshire supermarkets and online retailers, of which 22 were Red Tractor-certified, 27 were from organic and RSPCA programmes, and 27 had no assurance label. Except for the products without an assurance label, all products came from British farms.
- The Guardian