Use of antibiotics in the farming, veterinary and food industry 

11th November 2008

MRSA Action UK Meeting with the Chair of DEFRA

Portcullis House, London

MRSA Action UK had the pleasure to meet the Chair of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). We requested this meeting because of concerns with the ubiquitous use of antibiotics within the farming and veterinary community.

Our Charity is well aware that antimicrobials are probably the single most important discovery in the history of medicine. They were, and still are, considered miracle drugs, however our overuse and reliance on these wonder drugs are causing some of the worst infections in both man and animals to develop.

MRSA Action UK presented to the Chair of DEFRA, The Rt Hon Michael Jack MP, a discussion document summarising our concern. We believe if we are to control the rise of resistance to antibiotics both his Committee and the Health Select Committee need to work in conjunction with each other.

The Food Commission issued a press release three months ago expressing concern on the use of antibiotics in animals because the veterinary profession account for 50% of all antibiotic use. In our submission to the Chair of DEFRA we touched on the report by Professor Michael Swann from 1968 that covered our very concerns with him. The report produced very serious recommendations that were based on scientific evidence of the build-up of antibiotic resistance with bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella.

MRSA Action UK requested from the Chair of DEFRA an investigation with the view to holding an Inquiry into the use of antibiotics within the farming and veterinary industry, and that he also review the antibiotic use in countries outside of the UK. We are aware that the UK imports considerable amounts of food from around the world. The Chair of DEFRA has agreed to contact various organisations both within the UK and abroad, and to raise these concerns with them, and to request information into the use of antibiotics in their area.

The Chair of DEFRA made one request to our Charity in that he has the highest regard for our President Professor Hugh Pennington, and he has requested that Professor Pennington write to him with his concerns on our discussion document.

The meeting concluded with the Chair of DEFRA acknowledging that we had raised some serious points on the use of antibiotics in the farming and veterinary community, and that he would follow up his enquiries and communicate those responses back to MRSA Action UK.

If you or someone you care about has been affected by a healthcare infection and you wish to discuss this with us, please contact us at