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Liberals Call for ‘Antibiotic–Free’ Label

7 March 2012, at 10:54am

GERMANY - The liberal party in one region is calling for a national system for the mandatory labelling of meat from animals reared without antibiotics.

Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the North Rhine–Westphalia region of Germany has called for the introduction of a new meat labelling system to indicate that the animal had been produced without antibiotics, according to ISN, citing a report in Dow Jones. The label would only be used when the animals had been reared without any antibiotics, announced the health spokesman for the FDP, Stefan Romberg, in Dusseldorf.

He said the label would be an important step forward from the consumers’ perspective so they can be sure they are purchasing antibiotic-free meat.

Mr Romberg called on the North Rhine–Westphalia government to launch a national government initiative as soon as possible to create such a label. In addition, he called on Consumer Affairs Minister, Johannes Remmel, to follow the Liberals’ suggestion and to start discussions as soon as possible with stakeholders in creating a mandatory label in the overall quality standards. Until such a compulsory system is in place, the FDP suggested that a list of producers who rear animals without antibiotics is published on the Consumer Affairs Ministry’s web site.

Minister Romberg also announced greater transparency for consumers over the use of other medications in animal production.

ISN commented that this looks like yet another unnecessary label in what is calls the ‘Label Jungle’, that it will add costs and have no use. It is a popularist measure that will not achieve the goal.

ISN points out that even if no antibiotics were used in animal production, the serious issues of MRSA and ESBL would not go away. These are serious issues that need to be addressed but this cannot be done without involving the role of human medicine and particularly hygiene in hospitals.

For the pig producer, the aim is clear: to use as little medication as possible but as much as necessary. This is also consistent with the best animal welfare.

However, ISN points out that the proposed ‘antibiotic–free’ label is completeley inapprorpriate for solving these significant human health challenges and it will not sigificantly reduce overall antibiotic use.