Supermarket superbugs


Copy here from 2019 supermarket assessment press release with top lines and commentary. Link to the report here. 

 The questions we asked: 

  • Do you have a publicly available policy on farm antibiotic use? In particular, does your policy ban suppliers from using purely preventative antibiotic treatment as group
    treatments when no disease has been diagnosed in any of the animals in the group?
  • Does the policy ban suppliers from using antibiotics for routine prevention?
  • Does the policy restrict the use of the “critically important antibiotics” (modern cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones) so that these antibiotics can only be used where sensitivity shows that other treatments would not be effective, and so that they are never used for prevention or for group treatments?
  • Does the policy ban the use of the last-resort antibiotic colistin?
  • Do you gather data on antibiotic use by your suppliers? Is this data collected by farming system ie, conventional/intensive, free-range, organic?
  • Is this data publicly available or are there plans to make it publicly available?
  • Do you have an antibiotic reduction strategy?

Supermarket Superbugs campaign 2016 & 2017

In September 2016, our investigation revealed E.coli resistant to multiple crucial antibiotics on pig and chicken meat from seven major UK supermarkets. 

Following this we called on the supermarkets to take action, and we were supported by the FSA, which committed to work with supermarkets to reduce antibiotic use.

In 2017 we undertook an assessment of the antibiotics policies of nine of the UK’s largest supermarkets. We investigated which businesses had taken concrete action to reduce the amount of antibiotics being used in their supply chains.

We assessed the publicly available policies of the supermarkets, as policies regarding food for public consumption should be published in the public interest. You can find the policies of each of the supermarkets here: Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl*, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose.
*since publishing our report, Lidl have published an antibiotics policy. It was included in our 2017 report as our report was published prior to this. 

What we found in 2017


[i]Aldi: public position on antibiotic use is available, put not the policy
[ii] Aldi: not banned, however “prophylaxis only permitted under the direct instruction of a veterinary surgeon.  Producers must retain a record as to why prophylaxis was necessary, and have a management strategy on how to prevent future prophylaxis.”
[iii] Co-op: Not mentioned in the policy, but reference to “working to avoid the use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine” can be seen in a document published on the Co-op website.
[iv] Morrisons: routine use banned in chicken, egg & milk production, but not beef, pork and lamb. By 2020 all Morrisons branded fresh pork will be from pigs where routine use has been eliminated.
[v] Morrisons: Restricting the use of CIAs applies to milk, chicken and egg production, and from 2018 will include pork. Beef and lamb not covered.

For more information on the results of our 2017 assessment download the report here.



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