‘Let’s raise health’, Coop Italy removes antibiotics from animal products

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‘Let’s raise health’ is the project presented on April 27, 2017 to the Ministry of Agriculture by Coop Italy, which removes antibiotics from its own brand animal products. An unprecedented revolution on the planet, under the banner of health and well-being, of humans and animals.

Antibiotics in animal husbandry are unfortunately not used only-and to the extent strictly necessary-to deal with veterinary infections and diseases. But also for improper uses, such as ‘making up’ for hygiene deficiencies on farms and promoting animal growth. (1)
The WHO, among others, has highlighted the dangers of using the same antibiotics in medicine and animal husbandry.

Antibiotics, animal welfare and public health

Thus, antibiotic resistance is not only a problem in animal husbandry but also in public health. The 23,000 deaths recorded in Europe in 2016 will tend to rise, experts say. Until, by 2050, antibiotic resistance could become the leading cause of premature mortality.

Therefore, we need to work on the proper management of antibiotics in a unified context that considers both human and animal health. According to the One Health in fact logic promoted by WHO and OECD.

WHO recommendations to mitigate risks associated with antibiotic resistance:

1) Appropriate use of antibiotics
2) Preventing microbial infections, primarily through application of good hygiene practices in livestock farms and processing facilities
3) Develop new and effective antibiotics (R&D)
4) Cooperate with international partners on the antibiotic resistance front
5) Improve monitoring on antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance internationally
6) Promoting research and innovation
7) Improve communication, education, information

Animal welfare is at the heart of Coop Italia’s policies, and in fact it is at the forefront on this front as well. (2) First, animal welfare requirements-from feed to table-are subject to monitoring and certification by independent third-party bodies. And all Coop-branded products are derived from animals raised on strictly non-GMO feed.

Coop’s 20-year journey on animal welfare is marked by some milestones. As early as 2010, Italy’s first distributor has been marketing eggs exclusively from free-range hens. (3) The sale of foie gras is excluded, and the use of goose or duck feathers (4) in branded textile products. Pet food is strictly cruelty free.

‘Let’s raise health,’ the Coop Italy branded revolution

The ‘Let’s raise health’ project involves 1,600 farms, which in every region of Italy supply Coop Italia branded products. With the goal of excluding the use of antibiotics in an increasing as well as significant number of animal products. It starts with more than 10 million animals in the poultry supply chain, labeled ‘Raised without the use of antibiotics. (5) And work is being done at the same time on the beef and pork supply chains.

It is only the sharing of a virtuous path involving breeders and processors, veterinarians and doctors, distributors and consumers that can effect real change. Changing the paradigm is essential, and the size of the project (6) will allow Italian production chains to be aligned with the highest standards of animal welfare and public health. Thus promoting the value competitiveness of the whole system-country.

‘We will promote good animal husbandry practices based on animal welfare and innovative herd management methodologies; we will ensure that the use of antibiotics on farms is reduced and limited to cases of need; we will avoid the use of the most critical antibiotics used in human treatment. The aim is to help reduce antibiotic resistance to maintain the effectiveness of medical treatment on people’ (Marco Pedroni, President of Coop Italia)

‘Open Farms’ is the next scheduled initiative. To show consumAtors the reality of the farms of Coop Italia’s suppliers, in compliance with the highest animal welfare standards. (7) In January 2017, Coop also required its suppliers to introduce cameras at farms and slaughterhouses to optimize monitoring but also transparency in daily operations.

Once again (8) the Italian cooperative system leads the path of sustainable development and progress in Europe. Adopting all-round quality logics that embrace legality and safety first and foremost, but also respect for people, animals and the environment. According to crystal-clear procedures, subject to independent certification and audits. Full ahead!

Notes

(1) Such use has been prohibited in the EU since 2006, and yet is still in vogue in other areas of the globe, including with Europe’s transatlantic trading partners
(2) It is worth mentioning in this regard Coop Italia’s records on the transparency of the agricultural supply chain – with the ‘Buoni & Giusti’ project – and on the elimination of palm oil from branded foods
(3) As early as 2003, Coop brand eggs were derived only from free-range hens
(4) Taking into account the suffering inflicted on animals both in the force-feeding required for foie gras production and in the plucking

(5) The new Coop-branded chicken line, the 5 special ‘Fior Fiore’ poultry (guinea fowl, capon, grand rooster, Leghorn cockerel and free-range chicken) are already on the shelves. Two egg references will also be available by summer. All animals raised without the use of antibiotics.

(6) The meat sector for Coop is worth 1 billion euros, more than 60 percent of which involves branded products. Poultry meat occupies 30 percent of the total
(7) A representative of LAV (Anti-Vivisection League) and CIWF(Compassion in World Farming) also spoke at today’s presentation to confirm the long-standing collaboration with Italy’s leading distributor. Back in 2010, CIWF gave Coop Italy international recognition for its decision to sell only eggs from free-range hens, when even branded by their producers
(8) See footnote 2 above