news

Rare steak lovers face tough choice amid superbug warning

The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria caused by massive over-use of the drugs in agriculture has become “a critical threat to public health”, a report said

Rare steak.(Image: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos)

Meat lovers who prefer their steak rare risk increasing the chances of catching a superbug, warns to a scientific study involving Birmingham academics.

The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria caused by massive over-use of the drugs in agriculture has become “a critical threat to public health”, the report said.

The government review from UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Antibiotics was put together by a team including scientists from the University of Birmingham, who said undercooked meat, including steak, could be a risk.

Giving cattle too much antibiotic treatment is a serious factor in the rise of resistant superbugs, the report said.

Lord Jim O’Neill who led the investigation said: “My advice to consumers is that they have to make sure they cook meat properly. If you are going to choose to cook it as rare as possible you have to be aware of where it’s coming from.

“I find it staggering that in many countries most of the consumption of antibiotics is in animals, rather than humans. This creates a big resistance risk for everyone.”

The study said a huge decrease in the amount of antibiotics used in farming must be achieved – with all drugs used in humans banned.

Prof Laura Piddock, Professor of Microbiology, University of Birmingham, said: “Over the last 25 years, academics have repeatedly called for a reduction in global antimicrobial use in animals reared for food production. Unfortunately, our calls have fallen on deaf ears.”

“It is my hope that this report will provide the economic impetus to politicians to facilitate the development of new vaccines and treatments for use in animals combined with improved animal welfare so that valuable drugs such as antimicrobials can be retained for use in people.”

Prof Piddock said that it was as long ago as 1969 when an influential report argued antimicrobials that are used in human medicine should not be used in animals.

She explained: “The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) team of economists have already reported on the cost to the global economy and human health of AMR, and this new report shows that the use of antimicrobials in animals and environmental contamination by waste is a significant driver of global levels of drug resistance.”

The report recommended agreed targets for drug use per kilogram of livestock and fish, and global harmonisation on which drugs should be restricted for use in people.

It also said that vaccines should be much more widely used, rather than antibiotics.

View full mobile page