grocery store meat aisle

Are Top Grocery Chains Taking Superbugs Seriously?



New report shows most top US grocery chains are failing to stop antibiotic overuse in their meat supply.

World Animal Protection, along with several other members of the Antibiotics off the Menu coalition, have assessed and ranked the leading 12 grocery chains in the US on their antibiotics policies for their meat supply. Superbugs in Stock reveals that most grocery chains are failing to protect human and animal health by allowing their suppliers to misuse antibiotics in their meat and poultry production, a common practice in cruel, factory farming systems.

infographic showing a ranking of grocery stores

Of the companies assessed, only Target and Ahold Delhaize (parent company of Food Lion, Giant, and Stop & Shop), have clear policies requiring that the farms raising the cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys for their private labels not use medically important antibiotics as a disease prevention tool. The companies earned a “C” and “C-,” respectively, as neither company has taken steps to track if its suppliers are complying.

Millions of pounds of antibiotic medicines are routinely used on factory farms each year as a band-aid solution to the high risk of disease in the cruel, crowded, high-stress conditions animals endure. Overuse of antibiotics, whether in farming or human healthcare, increases the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, a growing public health crisis that caused 1.27 million deaths, globally, in 2019.

As powerful players that engage directly with suppliers and consumers, grocery stores have a vital role to play in building a more humane and sustainable food system that protects our health and our resources. Unfortunately, eight of the 12 largest US supermarket companies (including Walmart, Aldi, and Publix) earned an “F,” indicating that they are likely not taking the superbug crisis seriously. With no company earning higher than a “C,” the dire need for leadership in this sector is clear.

There is a great opportunity for these companies to take a strong lead by clearly stating that meat suppliers are prohibited from using antibiotics for disease prevention purposes, must adopt improvements to the living conditions and practices on farms that reduce stress and suffering for the animals, and publicly report their progress.

Consumers can take immediate action by eliminating or reducing meat consumption to help stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. By reducing the role of meat and dairy in our diets, we can curb the growth of factory farming and reduce the misuse of antibiotics.

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