Getting ahead of the antibiotics game

Mike Edmunds of leading supplier information management software company Trade Interchange warns consultants to learn more about the use of antibiotics in the food supply chain

Following extensive publicity and growing awareness surrounding antibiotic resistance (AMR), Trade Interchange is urging foodservice consultants to advise their clients to take action by monitoring the use of antibiotics in their food supply chain. This warning comes as the latest research from Trade Interchange shows that 70% of operators are leaving their food supply chains vulnerable due to outdated supplier management techniques.

Our latest research has found that purchasing managers and operators are increasingly aware of vulnerabilities in their supply chains, with almost a half (47%) stating risks such as antibiotics in the food chain as a key danger [1]. These findings come as Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is in the commercial and consumer eye now more than ever.

Recently, all 193 UN members signed a declaration to combat the escalation of AMR [2] and experts at the European Foods Safety Authority (EFSA) are currently looking at how to reduce the use of and the need for antimicrobials in animal production [3]. When the EFSA deliver its verdict, it could potentially alter and shape antibiotic legislation across Europe – something which foodservice consultants will need to be aware of.

When it comes to consumer food safety and future legal regulations, foodservice consultants play a key role in advising clients’ policy-makers and supply chain managers to protect their supply chain from risks, by establishing the best and up-to-date control and monitoring processes. These dangers range from antibiotics in livestock to other legislation such as Allergen Laws and the Modern Slavery Act.

The threat of AMR is mounting; worldwide, there is an estimated 63 tons of antibiotics, which are still being used in livestock per year – and this is predicted to increase by 99% by 2030 [4]. With growing amounts of contaminated meat, poultry and fish with bacteria such as MRSA, linked to the over-use of antibiotics, concern is rising – and for good reason!

Some foodservice businesses are already waking up to this reality and putting responsible sourcing policies into place. And with more operators concerned about antibiotics in the food chain (47%) than Modern Slavery (33%) [5] – which already has legislation in place to tackle within the UK and other European countries – the urgency is evident. However, there is still more to be done to eliminate these risks.

We expect to see an increase in this type of proactive action, given the severity of AMR, but worryingly, 60% of operators still use a basic spreadsheet or paper based systems to record and update crucial supplier information [6]. These outdated and often complicated and time-consuming ways of monitoring put foodservice businesses at greater risk of reputational damage relating to antibiotics in the food chain – not to mention all manner of other legislations and dangers.

Companies that have transparency in their supply chain, by using supply chain management systems such as our ARCUS® Supplier Information Management (SIM) module, have a clear advantage. Having systems in place to be able to immediately adapt to consumer pressures and future governmental legislation will help to remove any dramatic administrative burden, whilst ensuring brand and reputation are protected from the dangers of having a non-compliant supply chain.

The ARCUS® Supplier Management platform is a cloud-based software solution, featuring a comprehensive suite of easily-configurable modules that can be used in any combination or stand alone. The modules support a range of supplier management activities: from initial tenders and supplier information management, through to supplier contract and performance management. ARCUS® SIM can help monitor suppliers to the highest standard, ensuring operators know exactly what is in their food supply chain.

Mike Edmunds is co-founder and managing director at Trade Interchange


To find out more about Trade Interchange, visit and a full research report into the foodservice sector can be downloaded here.


[1] Trade Interchange, Mind the gap: is your brand’s reputation at risk?, Autumn 2016


[3] J. Byrne, ‘FSA weighs in on antimicrobial resistance debate’, 27-Sep-2016:

[4] Boeckel, T Global Trends in antimicrobial use in food animals, 19 March 2015

[5] Trade Interchange, Mind the gap: is your brand’s reputation at risk?, Autumn 2016

[6] Trade Interchange, Mind the gap: is your brand’s reputation at risk?, Autumn 2016

More Relevant

View More