Archive for April, 2017

RUMA response to inaccurate and misleading statement on meat testing from Grand National sponsors Randox Health

A press release issued by Grand National sponsors Randox Health (now removed) about testing meat at Aintree for antibiotic residues has been strongly criticised for inaccuracies, misrepresentation and its potential to cause confusion.

The RUMA Alliance, which promotes responsible use of medicines in farm animals, says Randox Health has failed to acknowledge that all use of antibiotics in farm animals in the UK is strictly regulated, with withdrawal periods observed to avoid presence in meat, milk and other products from food-producing animals.

It also confuses residue testing with the separate issue of antibiotic resistance and provides incorrect information on antibiotic use in food-producing animals which is, in fact, reducing rapidly in the UK.

RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald says: “In what appears to be an ill-conceived PR stunt by Randox Health’s food diagnostics division, the wrong risk and the wrong facts have been communicated.

“It is irresponsible and incorrect to imply a consumer would be harmed by antibiotics from any farm produce when residue levels have been very tightly controlled for decades.

“Regarding the altogether different issue of antibiotic resistance, its relationship to the testing of the meat for residues is bewildering. Antibiotic resistance is complex enough already; it should be a moral duty to clarify the facts rather than cause further confusion or, worse still, seek to use it for economic gain.”

Other concerns are expressed around sensationalist wording such as ‘epidemic’, and the incorrect attribution of a rise in human prescriptions for critically important antibiotics to food animals, when in fact farm animal sales of all antibiotics, including high priority ones, have fallen.

RUMA has contacted Randox Health, seeking to urgently clarify its concerns, but no response has been received.

New Royal Society paper models link between antibiotic use on-farm and antibiotic resistance issues in humans

The Royal Society has published a new paperModelling the impact of curtailing antibiotic usage in food animals on antibiotic resistance in humans”, which mathematically models the impact of curtailing antibiotic usage in food animals on antibiotic resistance in humans.

It finds that: “…for a wide range of scenarios, curtailing the volume of antibiotics consumed by food animals has, as a stand-alone measure, little impact on the level of resistance in humans”.

It also says: “..reducing the rate of transmission of resistance from animals to humans may be more effective than an equivalent reduction in the consumption of antibiotics in food animals”.

In response, RUMA says it welcomes the Royal Society’s study but cautions that what the paper itself describes as a ‘simple model’ can only give an indication of likely outcomes.

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones says: “The study highlights the complexity of antibiotic resistance and the need for a ‘One Health’ approach to the problem across humans and animals. So while it suggests that removal of antibiotics from animal production systems is not the answer to antimicrobial resistance in humans, the food and farming sector should not in any way dilute its current focus on reducing, refining and replacing antibiotic use across all sectors.

“An important point it does raise, however, is that a drive for ‘antibiotic-free’ farm produce is not necessarily beneficial for human health and makes any related detrimental impacts on animal health and welfare even more unjustifiable. RUMA therefore retains its position that responsible use of antibiotics alongside well-managed, scientifically-robust reductions is the most appropriate approach.”

 

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