The retailers have confirmed they are ahead of industry reduction targets for 2020.
Waitrose has joined Marks and Spencer in becoming the first supermarket giants to exclusively publish usage of antibiotics in its supply chain.
The retailers announced their figures earlier this week in a bid to confirm their commitment on replacing, reducing and refining usage in the sector as medical officials continue to clamp down on the industry.
M&S head of agriculture Steve McLean said the shop’s farmers used antibiotics responsibly and were ‘never used’ as a routine precaution.
Statistics confirmed the supermarket was leading the way on antibiotic usage for pigs, chicken and milk and was already much further ahead than the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance target for 2020.
Mr McLean said: “They [our farmers] never use them [antibiotics] routinely, never use antibiotics that are critical to human health and are committed to reducing use every year.
“However, we do not envisage never using them.
“Animal welfare is at the heart of our business and using them responsibly includes ensuring animals receive the appropriate treatment, under veterinary supervision, when they need it.”
For pigs, M&S is currently working at 41mg/kg, less than a quarter of the 2016 industry average of 183.
Usage in chickens has beaten the substantial drop across the industry and 2017 figures stand at 2.5mg/kg, compared to 17mg/kg industry average.
|M&S 2016||M&S 2017||Waitrose||
Source: Alliance to Save our Antibiotics
The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics championed M&S and Waitrose’s decision to publish the data and said it hoped other supermarkets would follow suit to ‘increase transparency’.
Cóilín Nunan of the Alliance said other retailers had collected data but were ‘so far refusing to publish it’.
“The publication of this data should help drive average use across the farming industry down, as it illustrates the extent to which many other producers are still overusing antibiotics, despite recent cuts,” Mr Nunan added.
“We are also calling for all supermarkets to publish antibiotic-use data by farming system, so that consumers can compare free-range and organic farming with indoor farming and intensive systems.”