On 7th July Lord Lilley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what advice they give to British travellers to the United States of America on the risks of eating (1) chicken which has been subject to a pathogen reduction treatment, and (2) hormone-fed beef.” The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, asked a follow up question focusing on the use of antibiotics amongst beef farmers in the United States.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am grateful for what the Minister just said. Can he tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government have conducted any assessment of antibiotic use among beef farmers in the United States? If so, what might be the potential implications for public health of beef imports following any future trade deal?
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park: That is an enormously important point. I will have to get back to the right reverend Prelate with the precise data, but there is no doubt that we will need a big reduction in the use of antibiotics in farming globally. The UK is pushing hard for that, particularly on prophylactic or preventative use, where there are emerging links between overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, which can pass and spread to humans. There is a potential for overuse of antibiotics to represent the greatest threat to human health of almost anything else on the horizon. This is a priority area for the Government. We have been working extremely hard to reduce antibiotic use in this country and have succeeded in doing so, although there is more to do. We need to ensure that the same happens elsewhere.