Excessive antibiotic use must be stopped by NHS caterers and schools

According to campaign groups, hospital and school caterers are not doing enough to prevent producers from overusing antibiotics in their animals.

This overuse of antibiotics increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, rendering important human medicines ineffective.

Health and animal welfare activists analyzed the policies of ten caterers in the United Kingdom and found that the lack of a moratorium on the use of antibiotics meant that controls could be weak or nonexistent.

Government officials, caterers, and suppliers all affirm that voluntary measures are effective. Caterers who serve the public sector have pledged to reduce the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food that are not necessary.

There is a global push to reduce the use of antibiotics in both human medicine and agriculture in order to combat the rise of "superbugs" - drug-resistant bacterial strains.

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics (ASOA) evaluated the publicly available food procurement policies of ten prominent caterers in the United Kingdom that supply the National Health Service, the education sector, nursing homes, and prisons.

According to a report released on Thursday, the companies had "limited or nonexistent" antibiotic use policies. According to the report, the companies were "far behind" the standards set by supermarkets and the rest of the commercial food industry.

In the meantime, the report discovered that the government's own procurement standards for the public sector do not currently include a requirement for responsible antibiotic use.

These are the mandatory food purchasing regulations for the NHS, the military, and prisons, as well as the prescribed best practices for schools and local governments.

Defra, which leads efforts to reduce antibiotic use on farms, has a contract with one of the firms criticized in the report, the alliance discovered.

Cóiln Nunan, scientific advisor for the Alliance, told sources that the government could use its considerable purchasing power in public service contracts to encourage improved antibiotic use controls.

A spokesperson stated that every meal they serve meets strict UK regulatory requirements, and they only work with food suppliers who meet the high safety, animal welfare, and traceability standards we require as part of their contract terms.

ASOA is comprised of medical, environmental, and animal welfare organizations who are concerned that the continued overuse of antibiotics will diminish the efficacy of numerous life saving medications. This is due to the fact that the infections they are used to treat are constantly adapting and can evolve into antibiotic-resistant forms.

The number of fatalities caused by drug-resistant infections in the United Kingdom exceeds 7,455 according to sources.

These numbers are likely to increase and it is anticipated the development of new medicines to combat new infections will not keep up.

Governments around the globe have acknowledged that limiting the use of antibiotics in both human and animal health is the most effective method to slow the emergence of superbugs.

Antibiotics are commonly used to safeguard animals from disease on farms. Concerns have been raised, however, that the industry may habitually overuse them to prevent healthy animals, especially those raised intensively, from becoming ill.

Therefore, government, agriculture, and industry in the United Kingdom have agreed to voluntary measures to restrict their use.

Thursday's ASOA report examined the publicly available policies of ten of the leading catering companies in the United Kingdom.