Consumers told not to fear antibiotic superbugs
Published:  16 December, 2015

Food safety specialist Acoura has told consumers that they shouldn’t be concerned about antibiotic-resistant superbugs in British red meat. 

A recent report by the UK Review on Antimicrobial Resistance warned that superbugs could be passed to consumers by eating undercooked meats. Due to overuse of antibiotics in livestock farming, it was suggested there was a risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria in red meat.

Despite this, Acoura believes that the risk to UK consumers would be rare due to low antibiotics in the supply chain.

“Routine use of antibiotics in beef and lamb production just doesn’t exist here in the UK and it would be extremely misleading for anyone to suggest our livestock are being pumped full of unnecessary drugs,” said qualified vet and Acoura’s managing director for agriculture and food processing sectors Tim Bailey.

“Safeguarding animal welfare through preventative use of antibiotics is of course necessary, and pigs during weaning take a small amount of essential antibiotics, but these instances aside, use is highly restricted.”

Bailey also highlighted that quality assurance schemes, such as Red Tractor and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), strictly monitor farmers to ensure their use of antibiotics is limited. “In addition to these restrictions, the EU has specific laws which prohibit the use of drugs to achieve weight gain or other perceived benefits,” he said.

“Eating high-quality, farm-assured British meat that has been cooked correctly should carry with it minimal risk of superbug infections – so consumers should not be concerned with scare stories arising from this report.”

However, Bailey pointed out that there was more cause for concern in other parts of the world: “That said, I would agree that there is a need for other countries, where legislation and farming practices are less developed, to limit the use of antibiotics in an effort to help ensure there is less chance of issues developing.”

Acoura has been working closely with UK farmers since 1996 and has an involvement with close to 20,000 farms across the agricultural sector. It is also responsible for providing 40% of the UK’s Red Tractor Dairy assessments and offers RSPCA-assured audits. In addition, Acoura is the exclusive provider of the QMS standards, covering all of Scotland’s assured livestock farms.