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Corporate Food Retailers, Meat Supply Chains, and the Responsibilities of Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: Stakeholder Report

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Suzanne HocknellORCiD, Professor Alexandra Hughes



This is the final published version of a report that has been published in its final definitive form by Newcastle University, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Executive Summary This report provides the key findings and recommendations of a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Cross Council Initiative on ‘Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)’. Our project is a Pump Priming study funded as part of Theme 4: ‘Tackling AMR beyond the Healthcare Setting’. The aim of the project is to address the responsibility of retailers in tackling the AMR challenge in the context of their chicken and pork supply chains, and to investigate this evolving role and how it might be shaped in the future, both in the UK and also extending to the global scale. This research is significant in light of the O’Neill (2016) report on Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally, the Government Response to the Review of Antimicrobial Resistance (HM Government, 2016) and subsequent roles played by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in taking forward their recommendations regarding the setting of targets for the reduction of antibiotic use, support for antimicrobial stewardship in the food system and the development of codes and standards for addressing AMR in the food system at both national and global levels. The O’Neill Report (2016: 29) calls for "producers, retailers and regulators to agree standards for ‘responsible use’. These standards could then be developed and implemented as an internationally recognised label, or used by existing certification bodies." In food supply systems, as in human health, the focus of AMR policy has been on the use and stewardship of antibiotics in general, and Critically Important Antimicrobials (CIAs) in particular. Stewardship is significantly more complex than a reduction in antibiotic use and attention has been paid to stewardship related to good animal husbandry. Indeed, within the food industry antibiotic drugs remain important tools to support farm animal health and welfare, and the safety of foodstuffs. The research finds that AMR is being framed less as a food safety issue and more as a public health concern, cutting across multiple areas of policy and practice. Collaboration and pre-competitive agreements have been vital to the success of meeting antibiotic reduction targets in domestic production ahead of schedule. Next steps for food retailers and other actors in the food system include consideration of AMR beyond the sphere of domestic on-farm production of fresh food to tackle AMR as it presents in associated environmental reservoirs (water bodies, soils), in processed foods and through international food supply chains.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hocknell S, Hughes A, Roe E, Keevil B, Wrigley N, Lowe M

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2018

Pages: 23

Online publication date: 24/11/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Institution: Newcastle University

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne

Contents: CONTENTS: 0. Executive Summary 1 1. Introduction 4 2. Research Design 6 2.1 Research purpose and background 2.2 Research aims 2.3 Research objectives 2.4 Project design and timeline 2.5 Project academic team 2.6 Acknowledgements 3. Responsible Antimicrobial Stewardship: The Role of Collaboration 8 3.1 Celebrating stewardship success 3.2 Supply chain collaboration on AMR stewardship 3.3 The importance of pre-competitive agreements 3.4 AMR as a public health issue 3.5 Consolidating data 4. Complex Risks of AMR in the Food System & the Challenges of Consumer and Policy Engagement 12 4.1 Living with microbial life 4.2 The emergence and persistence of antimicrobial resistance 4.3 Consumers 4.4 Policy 5. New Horizons and the Mapping and Tackling of AMR Risk in Food Systems 15 5.1 The significance of maintaining inter-firm collaboration and support from stakeholders. 5.2 The possibilities of mapping AMR risk in international supply chains 5.3 Tackling AMR beyond the management and monitoring of antibiotic use: Environmental vectors of AMR transmission beyond the farm 6. Findings and Recommendations 19 6.1 Stewardship and collaboration 6.2 Consumer engagement 6.3 New horizons 7. Bibliography 22 8. Acronyms 23