HK fast-food chains urged to phase out antibiotics in meat

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Fast food

Hong Kong's consumer watchdog has called on fast-food franchisees to ban antibiotics in their meats in a move that would echo the plans of some chains in North America. 

The Consumer Council has urged restaurants including McDonald’s, Subway and KFC to begin a process to halt the sourcing of meat and poultry from animals that are routinely fattened on the supplements. 

In March, McDonald's USA said it would phase out the use of chicken that were routinely given antibiotics within two years. Subway said it would limit the use of antibiotics in meat.

The Consumer Council chief said the routine overuse of antibiotics in meat production should be avoided to prevent the spread of deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Consumer Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han has written to nine fast food and restaurant chains to urge them to devise a process that would allow them to phase out using such meat across the 841 outlets they control in Hong Kong.

"We are not sure whether these big companies are really unaware of the health risks. We will alert them to the problem if they claim they do not know about it​,” Wong told the Post​, adding that she was seeking to speak to the companies directly to discuss their sourcing policies.

One chain so far, Cafe de Coral, has said it would meet the Consumer Council to discuss the issue.

Amanda Long, director general of the Consumers International, an international federation of consumer organisations, of which Hong Kong’s Consumer Council is a member, said: “If antibiotic resistance continues to grow unchecked the results will be catastrophic​. 

Global restaurant chains are in a position to use their huge buying power to have real impact on the use of antibiotics in food production, to set the agenda for other businesses and to promote public awareness of this looming crisis​.”

Two antibiotics are banned in animals and birds bred for meat in Hong Kong, while legal limits are set for 17 antibiotics.

Consumers International is spearheading international action against the use of antibiotics in meat.

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