Previously unpublished industry data Investigative news bureauAccording to the Veterinary Records and The Guardian, between 2015 and 2019, the use of class 1 antibiotics for various human infections in UK pig farms more than doubled. Experts warn Changes may increase further.
The bureau’s investigation revealed that the pig farms that supply pork to Tesco and Waitrose are using these drugs.
The use of such drugs (known as aminoglycosides) has increased, although the UK’s livestock industry has reduced overall antibiotic use by 2050 after expressly warning that the drug resistance crisis could lead to millions of deaths worldwide.
Antimicrobial resistance It is regarded as a priority of David Cameron’s government, but has received less attention from Downing Street in recent years.
Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the British Government Review super bacteriaSaid that the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to bring the issue of resistant bacteria back on the global political agenda. He said: “We need stronger international agreements and discipline to follow these agreements. We will drastically reduce the use of antibiotics in animals-especially those that are vital to human health.”
Tesco and Waitrose admitted that they allowed pork suppliers to use these drugs, but insisted that they used them responsibly.
Antibiotics are widely used in livestock production to treat and prevent diseases, Especially in factory farms Pigs and poultry are usually raised in overcrowded conditions where bacteria can multiply. These farms can be used as incubators for potentially deadly human drug-resistant diseases.
Aminoglycosides are a class of drugs that include gentamicin, which is a drug used in humans to treat meningitis and blood and abdominal infections. The World Health Organization considers them “essential” to human health. Nevertheless, they are still used in pig farms to combat diarrhea, piglet intestinal diseases and other diseases.
The drugs covered in this note are the only option or one of the few options for the treatment of infections caused by bacteria spread by non-human sources (such as food poisoning) or bacteria carrying “resistance genes” from non-human sources (such as farm animals).
According to data compiled by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Committee, an industry body, the use of aminoglycosides jumped from 2.6 mg per kilogram of body weight in 2015 to 5.9 mg in 2019.
Colin Noonan, a scientific adviser to the Pressure Group of the Save Antibiotic Alliance, said: “If the density of pigs is reduced and the livestock industry is improved, the use of antibiotics can be reduced.”
He added that farms should not be allowed to remove piglets from sows at an early age-a “stress” practice associated with a significant increase in the use of antibiotics.
According to industry experts, the recent surge in the use of aminoglycoside drugs may be due to the phasing out of other antibiotics (such as colistin)—a measure specifically designed to address antimicrobial resistance—and farm preparations. The EU banned the use of antibiotics and changes in zinc oxide are also often used to control erosion.
Veterinarian Grace Webster from the Pig Health and Welfare Committee stated that the industry has made progress by reducing overall usage, but added: “We are indeed very worried about losing zinc oxide because it may increase our The use of antibiotics.”
The UK’s largest food retailer, Tesco, revealed that total antibiotic use on farms that supply its pork has increased by 51% year-on-year, which intensifies people’s concerns about drug abuse. In the fiscal year ending in March 2020, the use of antibiotics in its pig supply chains in the UK and Denmark has increased from 60.5 mg per kilogram to 91 mg per kilogram.
The retailer blamed the overall growth on disease outbreaks and the expected phasing out of zinc oxide, but said its pig farms continue to reduce the use of “top priority” antibiotics, and that “the overall use is negligible, and individual suppliers report zero use.”
In 2018, the The European Medicines Agency warned that “the use of aminoglycoside drugs in human and veterinary medicine is associated with increased resistance” and cited examples of resistant E. coli, Salmonella, and MRSA livestock variants.
There is evidence that the use of at least one drug, apramycin in agriculture, can cause bacteria to become resistant to gentamicin.British supermarket meat testing Found before Pork is contaminated with gentamicin-resistant E. coli, highlighting the risk to humans.
In addition, records seen by the bureau show that large-scale medications have occurred on farms that supply British supermarkets, involving the administration of other antibiotics to thousands of pigs.
On one farm, pigs take medication regularly-once a day on average for four months. Another time, in a month, more than 2,000 animals were given a potion containing antibiotics three times.
A Tesco spokesperson told the agency: “We are committed to the responsible use of antibiotics in our supply chain. Together with the government and the wider retail industry, we follow the guidelines of the European Medicines Agency to determine when and How to use antibiotics.”
In a statement, Waitrose & Partners stated that the use of aminoglycoside drugs in its supply chain to treat diseased animals is restricted when infections may become an animal welfare issue.
A spokesperson for the National Swine Association said: “Since 2015, the UK pig industry has continued to responsibly reduce the use of antibiotics, a 62% reduction, and a reduction of the top priority and vital antibiotics. We anticipate the use of different types of antibiotics. The use varies from year to year, because the veterinarian will prescribe the most appropriate medicine based on the type of disease that needs to be treated-this is a responsible method of antibiotic use and the health and welfare of pigs.”
The Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the British government stated: “Our position remains that the livestock industry should work hard to prepare for the ban on the use of zinc oxide as a drug. Although the use of aminoglycoside drugs for pigs has increased slightly, there is no evidence to show that It is related to the preparation of the ban.”
Andrew Wasley is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in food and agriculture issues.He is the co-founder of Ecostorm, an ethics investigation agency, and has served as Ecologist Magazines from 2010 to 2012.