By Mark Cobley. Financial News, 17 November 2017.
A group of UK food companies, led by Domino’s Pizza, Whitbread and the brewery group Greene King, are leading a global effort to phase out the routine use of antibiotics on livestock, according to a coalition of investors campaigning on the issue.
US food groups are lagging behing, the investors said, and picked out restaurant groups Bloomin’ Brands and Texas Roadhouse for being “weak” against the risk of virulent disease. The investor group, FAIRR, which was founded by private equity entrepreneur Jeremy Coller in 2015, has signed up 61 fund managers looking after $2.3tn, including Aegon, Natixis Asset Management, Aviva Investors, Robeco and Hermes Investment Management.
The group campaigns for companies to phase out the routine, precautionary use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals, because this drives disease microbes to quickly evolve resistance to the drugs. Since large mammals act as “disease reservoirs” for infections that can also strike humans, the risk of large-scale outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant strains has begun to alarm policymakers.
One of the investors signed up to FAIRR’s campaign is the University of California’s $100bn endowment. Its chief investment officer, Jagdeep Singh Bachher, said in a statement: “We need all food companies, especially those in the US, to move further and faster on this issue. Antibiotic resistance is a rapidly emerging risk.”
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