The FSA will start testing supermarket meat this summer

The FSA will not “name and shame” retailers over their performance in tackling antimicrobial resistance in its upcoming survey, though it does plan to name them.

News the FSA would start testing samples of supermarket meat this summer raised concerns in the meat sector that retailers and processors would be singled out for criticism, as happened with the FSA campylobacter league table-type surveys.

The survey results could potentially be “misreported in the media or misrepresented by campaigners” warned Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture chairman Gwyn Jones, and could “soak up resources and potentially hamper the current progress the farming industry is making on reducing and refining use of antibiotics”.

The FSA has now clarified its position. While it planned to include details on where the samples came from - alongside other information such as the type of food and whether it is of UK origin - the results “would not be used to compare retailers’ samples. It’s just to ensure the final report includes the complete survey data,” said a spokeswoman.

It comes as the British Poultry Council this week announced the poultry sector had reduced antibiotic usage by 71% between 2012 and 2016, despite meat production rising 11%.

The BPC said last year had been “a year of enormous progress for the British poultry meat industry”, which brought a halt on the prophylactic use of antibiotics and last-resort drug colistin in UK poultry alongside an agreement on new Red Tractor standards over antibiotic usage.

”We are delighted with the progress we’ve made, but there is more work to be done,” said BPC chairman John Reed. “Our antibiotic stewardship programme continuously reviews on-farm management practices to ensure sustainable use of antibiotics throughout our supply chain.”