Guy’s news: Still dying for cheap meat

It is predicted that by 2050, every three seconds a person will die as a result of antibiotic resistant bacteria that have evolved under the over-use of antibiotics. There is no doubt that many of these deaths will be due to the wildly irresponsible use of antibiotics in agriculture commonplace today. The practice started in the 1950s, when American scientists discovered that routinely feeding livestock the drugs could double productivity by boosting animal growth and minimising disease; especially useful in intensive farming. Today, 40% of all antibiotics used in the UK are given to farm animals; in the USA it’s 80%.

There is nothing new here. Antibiotic resistance as a result of prophylactic agricultural use (ie. before animals fall ill) was raised as a concern by scientists almost as soon as the practice began, yet, staggeringly, no effective action has been taken. This is a failure of national and international governments who are allowing the interests of a few intensive industrial farmers and pharmaceutical companies, supported by a tiny minority of vets, to condemn millions to death. It is laissez-faire, neo liberal economics taken to an absurd extreme; what hope is there of addressing the many problems we face when governments fail to stand up to such commercial lobbying or to take the obvious action needed?

Instead of frittering away precious antibiotics as sticking plasters for unethical animal husbandry, we should be ring-fencing them and researching other ways to keep our animals healthy, even when we don’t understand how these work and cannot sell them for profit. For years the Riverford Dairy herd have been fed apple pomace in the autumn, the by-product of cider making, from our
neighbours at Luscombe. No one understands why, but their milk ‘cell count’ (an indication of subclinical mastitis) drops substantially at the same time. It is far from a complete solution and won’t pay for any lobbyists, but could be a small step towards keeping our animals healthy with fewer antibiotics.

Obviously I will end this newsletter with an urge for you to buy organic meat, eggs and dairy, where the prophylactic use of antibiotics is forbidden. Yet we need to act more broadly; you can sign a petition at, before we hit a truly frightening dead-end.

Guy Watson

13 responses to “Guy’s news: Still dying for cheap meat

  1. Guy, It gives me great pleasure to read your comments and to realise that after years of believing in these disastrous facts, there is now a chance of success. I acknowledge your guts, determination, and pure logic. Well done, and keep it up.

  2. it takes a few clicks to find the petition, here’s a direct link:

  3. It is indeed staggering that governments and corporations care so little about human welfare. I am shocked and deeply disappointed that the food industry still puts profits before people. Nearly 70 years of reckless antibiotic use in the animal farming industry and only now , reluctantly it seems,are they willing to discuss some changes. So relieved that my family and I have only ever eaten Riverford products for the last 10 years.

  4. I have been a vegetarian, verging on vegan for 30 years. I am sooo committed to the organic movement, if it is not organic, I don’t buy it. What I don’t understand, is how people can eat what they eat and not realise the effect it has on their lives. Thank you so much for providing food that I can eat.

  5. The use of any Antibiotics/prophylactic does NOT surprise me at all. All Governments want is money, they are bought by the Corps. that dish out the Antibiotics most likely, so they will not do too much until you start shouting from the roof tops in the millions.
    Only other thing to do is to NOT buy the meat from those places, and just go organic, or at least cut down your meat need by %50 by the millions to send that kind of message out there. Change is possible but needs to have huge numbers to do so.

  6. For the last few years health care professionals have been urged to reduce the unnecessary or inappropriate use of antibiotics in patients (and rightly so). But as Guy has highlighted in his newsletter, the misuse of antibiotics in agriculture is a much more serious problem and one that should be addressed urgently, if only the government would wake up to the seriousness of the issue and put the interest of public health above that of big business.

  7. Have just eaten lamb leg joint ,after a very disasterous weekend just roasted gently in oven,rested for as long and tasty old fashioned gravy ,frsh mint sauce and garden veg,(ok some like the meat from my riverford box) No need to even mention the disadvantages of non organic meat,…….where did you get this meat from sO,SO, delicious ,??and so cheap!!simple,tasty and delice .oh and reasonable £17 .50 for everyday meatboxdoes mimimum of 3 meals,and packed lunch ,often soup stock and salads or as in this case ended up with tasty bones!as have said before ,simple fresh tasty meals full of riverford goodness.No need to persuade anyone but does spoil you for even local butchers meat,but DEFINATELY not supermarket ever again.

  8. Unfortunately like a lot of issues, their argument would be that there is’nt enough food in the world and its the only way to feed the masses
    Ly we know that there are better ways to feed the masses, there is plenty of food in the world, that it is unfairly shared and routinely wasted.
    The drug companies make a lot of money and the animals and people suffer.

  9. Did anyone else see this weeks ‘Eat Well For Less’,?(and shouted at t,v?)because this weeks guest cook compulsively bought ‘ supermarket organic’branded meat and veg. and rather than persuade her that it was better for you but a much easier way to buy organic produce ,they just persuaded her to not eat organic!As this involves Greg Wallis ,a former vegetable trader,and masterchef host do not understand why his researchers didnt give a fairer view of naturally produced box scheme veg and meat,farmers market etc.Apparently national average spend on food per week is £40 how well does riverford fit into that scheme?It is not for the wealthy wasters it encourages sensible ,cooking eating and shopping on a shoestring.

  10. Pingback: Grilled Corn Salsa | Veg Nerds

  11. Am not sure if l am being awkward,but l have found that since you have stopped putting paper bill with the veg, box ,there are often things left out of the delivery .Last week l was given low fat yoghurt in lieu of full fat(probably wise!),but this week there were no 6 pack baking potatoes and no 480 gms of tomatoes!which has made quite a difference to weeks meals.I do realise that this is just human error,but it currently means that when the order arrives l have to check on line ,to see as ordered which sometimes dont have time til later in the day often after you ve gone home,then phone up and then get a refund and have to go to nearest riverford shop to replace missing items!.I am assuming that the reason you dont put paper bill in box is that waste of paper?or maybe because l am awkward and shop ‘out of the box'(sorry for pun!)
    )with few extras ,rather than standard all in one box?shop ,and it is just human error but would it not be easier to just have list of contents for packer ,delivery driver and customer to check ?as would save a lot of time!Or am l being too awkward,as never shop on line for anything elsewhere ,do not know if this is a common occurence?Apologies if this sounds too much like a complaint rather than an observation!l do realise sometimes that you have to replace items with others if not available but dont think this is the case here.

    • Hi Paula,
      Thanks so much for the feedback. At the moment, all ‘extras’ items are packed in the van at the point of delivery. So, the driver has a list of items to add on to veg boxes or make up boxes, like you have yourself. Because of this, this is where the human error normally happens. We are currently working on a new packing system that means that we pack by customer at the farm, which should completely eliminate this. In the mean time, we’re really sorry for any problems. We know it’s very frustrating especially when you have meal plans.

      • No I am sorry,had no idea,and would be the last person to criticise these wonderful people who deliver aat all hours and n all weathers!a great ‘human success’ rather than error.Thankyou for enlightening me as had images of mass production line .Apologies once again to my delivery driver with thanks.

Leave a Reply to Jeni Shergold Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *