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M&S and Waitrose first supermarkets to offer transparent access to antibiotic usage in supply chain

The retailers have confirmed they are ahead of industry reduction targets for 2020.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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M&S and Waitrose first supermarkets to offer transparent access to antibiotic usage in supply chain

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.

 

Responsible use

“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.


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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

2016 industry

average

RUMA target

2020

Beef, veal,

venison

<10 10
Lamb <10 10
Pigs 41 41 50-75 183 99
Dairy 13 15-25 26.2 21
Chicken 4 2.5 <5 17 25
Duck <5 3 25
Turkey 10-15 86 50
Egg <0.5 0.73 <1
Milk 15 13 26 21

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’.

 

According to the Alliance, Waitrose issued its data in response to a Guardian article which praised M&S for being the first supermarket to offer open access to its farm usage.

 

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.”

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