Campaigners have marked World Antibiotics Awareness Week by calling on KFC, Subway and McDonald’s to end the routine use of antibiotics in their livestock supply chains.
The group, which includes Consumers International, ShareAction and The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, noted in a letter to The Guardian that drug-resistant infections are expected to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050 and push more than 28 million people into extreme poverty.
They welcomed the progress made by McDonald’s and Subway to tighten their policies around antibiotic use in North America and urged KFC to follow suit. But they added that action in one region would not be enough and urged the fast food giants to make global commitments and develop timetables for action.
The letter comes in the same week that a row broke out between senior medics and an industry backed alliance after the former called on the Government to immediately ban the routine use of antibiotics in UK farming.
However, RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture), which counts AHDB, British Retail Consortium and National Farmers Union among its members, said such actions risked creating more severe disease problems and poor welfare.
RUMA welcomed new data from DEFRA which showed a 10% reduction in sales of antibiotic use in food-producing animals in the UK from 2014 to 2015. “This is a complex challenge and it’s a fine balance to reduce and refine use of antibiotics without compromising animal welfare,” said RUMA secretary general John FitzGerald. “These results bode well for the 2016 figures as momentum builds in tackling the challenge of antibiotic resistance in farm animals.”