Antibiotic Residues and our Health
One of the most important factors concerning people today
is how the residues of antibiotics etc in thier food can affect
our health and the health of our children and loved ones. It
has been thirty years since the last independent advisory committee
report in to antibiotics resistance passing from animals to humans.
This report was carried out by the Swann Committee (Swann et
al 1969), and it set out principals and regulations for the use
of antibiotics in British agriculture, this influenced legislation
This information all comes from a report by the Soil Association
that was timed to come out at the same time as the publication
of a report from the "Advisory Committee on the Microbial
Safety of Food (ACMSF) - the first report from an advisory committee
specifically to look at this issue since Swann."
It was hoped that this report would help in some way to draw
more attention to this problem so that it would become a topic
The principle findings from the report are:
- Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food has been found to be
a greater risk to human health than antibiotic residues. There
is a statutory residue surveillance programme in the UK to monitor
residues found in food, however we don't have an equivalent scheme
to monitor resistance.
- Antibiotic resistance transferring from farm animals to humans
is a greater risk than the risk of passing BSE from animal to
human. This could potentially cost the Government and the NHS
a massive amount of money, so enormous that it is unquantifiable.
- The invention and supply of new antibiotics has slowed down
substantially and no genuinely new classes have been developed
for over twenty years. However the increase in multiple-drug
resistance is increasing very alarmingly, for example some salmonella
- 5% to 95% in twenty years, and MRSA - 2% to 40% in 10 years.
- The first multiple-drug resistance in the UK was caused by
over prescribing of antibiotics by veterinary surgeons.
- The contribution from the agricultural industry to the problem
of drug-resistance is constantly being underestimated.
- There have been previous attempts to reduce the use of antibiotics
within the agricultural industry, but these have been unsuccessful.
This is due to factors such as new drugs used in place of the
banned ones and loopholes being exploited.
- It is as greater threat to use routine prophylaxis with therapeutic
antibiotics as it is to use growth promoting antibiotics, and
much greater threat than full therapeutic treatment for short
- There have been bans on several growth promoting antibiotics,
however despite this the overall threat they pose has not been
- The overall use of antibiotics in agriculture must be reduced,
and ideally to less than half of the present level.
- The British government (over the last year) have allowed
a previously little-used antibiotic growth promoter to be used,
and now it is fed to virtually every boiler chicken in the UK.
This growth promoter is called avilamycin and it is almost identical
to Ziracin, which is believed by many to be the best new life-saving
drug we will see in the next decade. This drug (Ziracin) is already
on trial in British hospitals against three superbugs, VRE, MRSA
and multiple-drug resistant strains of meningitis and pneumonia.
As far as research goes Britain has not carried out any to see
if it is safe. But in Denmark research has been carried out and
the findings are that the two antibiotics are totally cross-resistant,
and that avilamycin may also be selecting for resistance to vancomycin,
currently still the most important antibiotic for treating superbugs.
A few days after this report was published, day old chicks with
a 42 day life expectancy, that were put on avilamycin because
of the ban on other growth promoters, will be on sale.
- Our country has offered no advice on how to cope with the
ban on certain antibiotics in animals, other EU member states
are more organised and have offered advice. Because of this they
have been put at a commercial disadvantage, and this comes at
a time when it is hard for farmers in general. Most farmers because
they are unsure how to tackle this problem with banns, have just
started to give more of the antibiotics still permitted. In the
cases of Sweden and Denmark, they have changed their methods
of production to cope with this ban, but the British have not.
Some of the text above is from an article on the Soil Associations
website - Click
Here to view original article
Organic Farming Pages - Topics & Content
Organic Farms Page 1
For and Against Organic Farming - advantages and disadvantages
Organic Farms Page 2:
Chickens - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms
Eggs - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms
Organic Farms Page 3:
Pigs - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms
Homeopathy used in Organic Farms
Arguements Against Organic farms
Organic Lettuce - E. Coli Debate
Organic Farms Page 4:
Antibiotics used in Intensive Farms
The sources of Contamination
Which eggs are affected?
Organic Farms Page 5:
Antibiotic Residues and our Health
Organic Farms Page 6:
Key Recommendations - Bans and Restrictions:
Key Recommendations - The Veterinary Profession
Organic Farms Page 7:
Food Quality and your Health
Antibiotic use is cut in organic farming
GMO's banned in organic farming
BSE - organically reared or born cattle are BSE free
Food poisoning risks are minimised by using organic standards
Organic farming nurtures the soil
Organic farming returns nutrients to the soil
Organic farming rotates crops