As the Brexit transition period draws to a close, fears have been raised that the UK could struggle to strike future deals with key countries.
Data compiled by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics has shown that farmers in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are permitted to use antibiotics on their farms, a practice which could soon be banned by the EU.
Animals which are bred this way grow faster and could be kept in overcrowded conditions but the meat could put public health in jeopardy.
Cóilín Nunan, scientific adviser to the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said: “Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and we need to raise standards around the world to prevent it increasing. These free-trade agreements need to take that into account.”
The use of antibiotics in cattle in the US is seven times that in the UK and in pigs twice as high. Antibiotic use in Australia in poultry is more than 16 times higher than the UK, and use in pigs about three times higher.
“UK producers will be forced to compete by reducing costs, which means larger numbers of animals in worse conditions, which means an increase in the use of antibiotics,” said Nunan.
“Any new trade deals must not undermine British standards and threaten public health by allowing cheap meat and dairy produced with antibiotic growth promoters into the UK.”
The government of the UK has made it clear that it will not “compromise on our world-leading environmental protections animal welfare and food standards.”
Banning the use of antibiotics would be “a huge step forward” for British government as the country will be able to compete with the other countries on better conditions.