Buyer Beware - What & Why We Need To Know About Antibiotics in Food

Buyer Beware - What & Why We Need To Know About Antibiotics in Food

According to the AVA, Singapore imports over 90% of all the food consumed on the island. It's a staggering statistic when you consider the sheer volume, quantity and variety of food products brought here every day. The AVA's role is to monitor the safety of our food, and they do a good job for us all. But Asia is rife with 'fake' foods (rice, eggs, garlic, veg and even beef are particularly vulnerable) and ongoing food safety challenges like tainted meat.

But perhaps the single biggest issue across the region and globally is the massive problem emerging from the overuse and abuse of antibiotics in food to speed up production rates, which food producers use to 'fast-fatten' chickens, pigs, cows and fish with growth promoters. There is no shortage of reports from health authorities around the world flagging antibiotic resistance as the leading health issue facing us all, and Singapore is not immune. A simple Google search will return dozens of pages on this subject.

China is currently the biggest offender - regulations and safeguards are dreadful and corruption is widespread - but it does not operate alone. A read of Bloomberg's recent highly informative article, How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood From China Ends Up on Your Table, will open your eyes on just how insidious, pervasive and inter-connected many of our neighbours are in the supply and sale of fish and seafood laden with antibiotics.  

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) are considered the leading authorities on the issue of antibiotic resistance and food if you would like to read more on the subject. Each year in the United States alone, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that can't be beaten with most antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a result of those infections, according to the CDC. But this is not a US-only issue, it's a global crisis that merits consumers becoming educated so they can make better buying choices to avoid the chance of becoming part of these horrendous statistics. 

I share this article not to alarm you, but to inform you of the need to be vigilant and mindful of what you choose to buy and from whom you buy. Knowing where your food comes from and what journey it takes to reach your table is crucial. Don't be afraid to ask butchers, wet market stall holders and supermarkets where they source their products and what's been added to products especially meat, chicken, fish, seafood and eggs. If they can't give you a clear, informed answer, think twice before adding them to your basket.  

I invite you to visit the Provenance page I created on our homepage. It's dedicated to telling our customers where, from whom and how I source our products. As many of you will know, I personally vet and visit all of our key suppliers before I select their products to sell. It's a time-consuming and costly practice, but it allows me to assure you that our products are clean, traceable, free of antibiotics, growth hormones and anything that could cause harm. My suppliers must adhere to the highest internationally recognised standards and practices in animal welfare and food production. I believe this approach is increasingly important, particularly at a time in the food industry when consumers face life-and-death issues that can be directly related back to inadvertent antibiotic consumption.

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