The growing dangers of antibiotic resistance

Ground-breaking new research has revealed soaring levels of antibiotic resistance in pig and chicken meat from seven major UK supermarkets. Overuse of antibiotics in farming is contributing to deadly drug resistance - a crisis predicted to kill one person every 3 seconds by 2050.The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics ground-breaking study has found E.coli resistant to multiple crucial antibiotics on 71% of low welfare British pig and chicken meat (63% on pork samples) from 7 major UK supermarkets.The findings provide further evidence that the overuse of antibiotics on low welfare farms is undermining the treatment of dangerous E.coli infections in peopleAntibiotic use in farming is putting our health at risk. Livestock - particularly pigs and poultry - are often kept in intensive conditions where the risk of disease is high. As a result of these poor conditions, it's common for groups of animals to be routinely dosed with important antibiotics, even when no disease has been diagnosed. Antibiotics are also added to feed to promote faster growth of animals. This is fuelling the emergence of dangerous superbugs which threaten our health.We are quickly approaching a post-antibiotic era where common infections will once again become serious killers. – Soil AssociationAt Swillington we farm organically, that means no antibiotics are given routinely to animals.Jo, the farmer at Swillington explains the rare occasions where antibiotics are used in an organic system;“We only use antibiotics if they are needed for the welfare of the animal. If they are needed, the withdrawal period before the animal goes for slaughter is three times that of a non-organic farm.In the last year I have given antibiotics to 1 cow (my very old cow who will never go for slaughter anyway) given on vet advice, 2 ewes after difficult lambing, 1 ewe due to infected foot and to 1 ewe after a caesarian (given by the vet).No antibiotics are given routinely to any of our animals and none have been given to any of the stock going for slaughter, the antibiotics given were for the welfare of breeding animals only so they won’t enter the food chain”Swillington Farm, Farm Walk 22nd September 2012At Swillington we support the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics campaign to:

  • Ban the routine, purely preventative use of antibiotics in groups of entirely healthy animals.
  • Ban all preventative and group treatments with antibiotics classified as ‘critically important’ in human medicine.

However this is just a start, we also think that the real solution is quite simply to produce and eat less meat by farming organically and eating less meat, but better meat.The drive to increase meat production to satisfy a growing demand has led to the intensification and mass production of factory farmed meat that, alongside the evident damaging effects to our health, also threatens the wider environment and eco-system never mind the poor welfare conditions of the animals themselves.The buying decisions you make are a simple but powerful form of direct action and small changes really can make a big difference. Swapping to organic high welfare food has huge benefits for people, animal welfare and the environment.By choosing to only eat traceable, high welfare meat as part of healthy, balanced diet really can be better for all of us and the planet. There's never been a better time to go organic. Stop by our butchery or subscribe to a monthly meatbox to receive organic meat straight to your door.