Food brands warned about antibiotics in supply chain

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F&B producers routinely use antibiotics to stave off infection or disease in beef and poultry factory farms where animals are kept in close confines and contagious diseases can spread quickly.

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Denny’s, Papa John’s, The Cheesecake Factory, and Costa Coffee, some of the biggest F&B brands in the Middle East, have come under pressure from big investors to end the unnecessary use of antibiotics in their supply chains according to a report by the Financial Times.

The coalition of investors represents around US $2-trillion worth of assets and is being led by Coller Capital, the private equity house, which says it is concerned about the impact of overuse of antibiotics on human health.

“The potential cost of anti-microbial resistance to our health and wealth is truly frightening,” Jeremy Coller, chief investment officer of Coller Capital, told the Financial Times.

F&B producers routinely use antibiotics to stave off infection or disease in beef and poultry factory farms where animals are kept in close confines and contagious diseases can spread quickly.

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The fear is that regular use of the medicines in animals is leading to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the antibiotics are passed on down the food chain.

Investors are concerned that these risks could leave food companies at risk of losses if governments attempt to tackle the growing threat to public health.

Investors are urging food and restaurant companies to introduce comprehensive public policies on antibiotics use across their meat and poultry supply chains to prevent the routine use of antibiotics by their meat and poultry suppliers.

The group is particularly concerned about the use of so-called last line of defence antibiotics that are vital for human health.

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A 2014 report by Public Health England estimated that, by 2050, the global cost of antimicrobial resistance will be as much as US $100 trillion and will kill around 10-million people per year — more people than currently die from cancer.

This year’s campaign over antibiotics is an escalation of one that launched last year and which targeted McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza and eight other food and restaurant businesses in the US.

A spokesperson for Whitbread, which owns Costa Coffee, said its suppliers do not feed antibiotics to animals to prevent disease, and will only use the medicines when “absolutely necessary” to treat an ill animal.

Papa John’s, Denny’s and The Cheesecake Factory did not respond to the Financial Times’ request for comment.


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