Ed Bedington
Poultry bosses have refuted Soil Association claims of illegal drug use.
The organic body had written to DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett calling for action on the use of antibiotic growth promoters, which they claimed were being used to control disease, an illegal act under EU legislation. The Soil Association claimed that in a written reply Mrs Beckett accepted the current use of AGP "could be illegal under EU legislation" and had asked officials to investigate.
However, Professor Colin Spedding, chairman of Assured Chicken Production, denied the drugs, initally banned under the assurance scheme but then later reintroduced, were being used to treat disease. He said AGPs were simply reintroduced to tackle welfare issues: "When we introduced the ban, a number of producers complained birds were suffering from diarrhoea."
Spedding said the AGPs were being used to avoid diarrhoea. He said the reintroduction had allowed farmers to cut back around 23% on the more serious therapeutic antibiotic use.
Meanwhile Sainsbury has defended itself against allegations on the BBC's Panorama of having beef and pork proteins in chicken nuggets sold by Sainsbury and also beef DNA in nuggets sold by Tesco.
Both Tesco and Sainsbury pointed to the fact milk was used in the product, which would account for beef DNA. Sainsbury said its own test had failed to detect any pork traces.