by Lisa Keilhofer

Appearance of Antibiotics in Animal Products still high

A danger foreseen is half avoided?
A danger foreseen is half avoided? (Picture: © Bits and Splits -

In November 2018, the IQ Magazine of the “Bayerische Rundfunk” broadcasted on the use of antibiotics in animal products. Especially the use of last resort antibiotics was pictured as highly problematic as it is almost completely restricted in medicine in order to prevent the development of resistance and keep these substances literally as “last resort” for life threatening cases. The use of these last resort antibiotics in food production, mainly in poultry, is counteracting this goal and could lead to resistances and a failure of the substances in emergency situations (to the full article: Strictly limited last resort antibiotic in animal products).

A danger foreseen is half avoided?

Our last article on the issue concluded with the information that the EU is now aware of the issue and is working on a law about it. That was in November 2018, as mentioned above, so more than one year ago. Unfortunately, we tend to let matters rest, and be like “ok, now that we know about it, “they” will surely go for a solution pretty soon”. A recently published article of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” is again taking up the matter. 

What has happened since then?

First, it is striking that the article is talking about a bill, a legislative proposal to the Federal Council (Bundesrat). So, the result after more than one year of knowing about and working on that issue is nothing but a proposal for amendment that is now being discussed. The consumer protection organization Germanwatch reacts to the context with critic, and so does the political party “die Grünen”. The article quotes Friedrich Ostendorff (Grüne) saying, the proposal is simply not suitable to successfully prevent antibiotics resistance effectively”.

And also, the ministry of agriculture (Agrarministerium) confirms that the bill is nothing but a way to facilitate the modes of documentation for livestock owners. Measures to cut down the use of last resort antibiotics are planned only in a “second step”. The speaker refers to an EU law announced in 2018 that is expected to be finalized around 2022 and for which Germany is waiting.

How do we as consumers react?

This rather disillusioning message leaves us with two conclusions: First, despite being aware of the problem of using last reserve antibiotics for more than one year, all that has happened so far, is the release of a proposal for a regulation that is only a preliminary step for the actual regulation of antibiotics use. If and when the actual law will be finalized is pure speculation right now. So, it is wise for a consumer not to believe that just because we are aware of a problem, it will be addressed quickly and effectively. We as consumers should be aware of that delay in action and not expect an immediate response and solution to any problem known.

Second, and even more important, is the conclusion that we gave in our first article, already. We cannot trust in regulations by law, so we as consumers have to take other measures: applying pressure by our consumer behavior. If cut-price goods are no longer demanded, the offer will be adapted in shortest time. Therefore, we would like to repeat our call to all of you: rather cut down your consumption on meat and prefer high-end goods from your local producer and butcher. Not only is this decision in favor for our health, but also are we appreciating the work of committed livestock owners. With this choice we can apply more pressure on producers than any complex law ever could.

Lisa Keilhofer
Lisa Keilhofer

Lisa Keilhofer studierte an der Universität Regensburg. Sie arbeitet im Bereich Internationalisierung und als freiberufliche Lektorin.

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