Co-op Italia to open testing base in Ireland to source antibiotic-free red meat

In a first among major EU retailers, Coop Italia wants to source beef only from cattle that have never received antibiotics

Co-operative retailer Co-op Italia will be opening a cattle testing base in Longford, Ireland, to source antibiotic-free cattle. Earlier this year the mutual launched a campaign to promote the sourcing of meat and eggs from animals that had not been treated with antibiotics.

The initiative started with over 1,600 farms from which Co-op Italia’s private label meat products are sourced. Already all chickens sold under Co-op Italia’s Fior Fior range are without antibiotics, and Co-op Italia beef and poultry products are also GM (genetically modified) free, which means the animals have not been fed GM products.

“The Co-op’s policy has always been to have knowledgeable suppliers involved in rigorous production and management processes – they are our first allies,” said Maura Latini, director general of Co-op Italia, in a press statement. The retailer has set the goal for 2018 to source beef only from cattle that have never received antibiotics, a first among major EU retailers.

As part of this approach, the co-op will be sourcing more meat from Irish suckler farmers, where the use of antibiotics tends to be low. Ireland is among the EU’s countries with the lowest use of antibiotics in farming.

Co-op Italia’s focus on sourcing antibiotics-free products aims to help tackle the issue of antibiotics resistance. A recent report by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control confirmed the impact of use of antibiotics on the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Joint Interagency Antimicrobial Consumption and Resistance Analysis (JIACRA) report highlights the link between antibiotic consumption and antibiotic resistance in both humans and food-producing animals.