Do we need antibiotic-free labels on food?

With the overuse of medicine linked to the rise of MRSA, pressure is mounting on the food industry to act. Experts give their view.

As published in Foodservice Footprint 10 September 2015

New investigation

An investigation by the Guardian newspaper found that pork sold by several leading supermarkets was contaminated with a strain of MRSA. The so-called superbug has been linked with the overuse of powerful antibiotics on intensive farms. The pork was not British, but research published at the same time by the Alliance to Save Antibiotics identified MRSA in meat from British pig farms.

Health risks

The health risks associated with this finding are thought to be very small, as the bug is eliminated through cooking. RUMA, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance, highlights that there is an international system to set a maximum residue level for every active ingredient, including antibiotics, used in medicines to treat food-producing animals. This is the level at which consumption is deemed safe. One toxicologist involved in the process apparently said the “Danger: cliff edge” sign is set at three miles inland.

Consumer concern

However, pressure is mounting on the government to look at the issue of antibiotic use afresh. Last year a survey by the National Office of Animal Health found that 81% believe that the use of antibiotics in livestock makes them less effective for people – up from 76% in 2012.

Read the full article in Foodservice Footprint »


This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Dominic Watkins

Partner - Head of Food Group

I am Head of DWF’s internationally renowned food sector group as well as being Head of Regulatory in London.