What is lurking in the pork at Walmart stores?
We found superbugs in pork sold at Walmart stores in the U.S.
Our latest report, U.S. Pork and the Superbug Crisis, covers testing of pork sold in Walmart stores for the presence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and found that 80% of the bacteria isolated from the pork were resistant to at least one antibiotic.
Additionally, more than half contained at least one multi-drug resistant strain resistant to 3 or more classes of antibiotic.
What are antibiotic resistant bacteria?
Antibiotic resistant bacteria threaten public health and weaken our defenses against illnesses and infections in humans that are difficult to treat. They result in prolonged hospitalizations and higher mortality. Global health agencies have warned that we are entering a post-antibiotic era where common infections and routine surgeries may once again be life-threatening.
Tell Walmart to set higher welfare policies for its pork suppliers to help reduce reliance on antibiotics, starting with an end to the use of gestation crates.
Antibiotics overuse in farming
Pork producers use large amounts of antibiotics as a result of low-welfare practices and conditions. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to the rise and spread of bacteria on farms that are resistant to the medicines typically used to kill them. These "superbugs" can travel off-farm via water, air, workers, and wildlife or through the food chain in the pigs themselves, reaching humans and causing life-threatening illness.
Prohibiting low-welfare practices in pork supply chains can help eliminate overuse of antibiotics by the industry. While Walmart has not yet made a time-bound commitment to phase out sow stalls in its supply chain, several of its competitors have. Target and Costco have committed to only partner with suppliers who do not use gestation crates by 2022 and Kroger by 2025. Walmart is lagging behind the times, it needs to move forward by making animal welfare a priority, as it is for its customers.
Walmart must Care More, Do Better for pigs, people, and the planet.
Walmart: Source pork from higher-welfare producers now!
More than half of the pork tested from Walmart batches contained at least one multi-drug resistant bacteria strain.
The superbug crisis is real and must be stopped.
Send an email to Walmart now to demand it protect pigs, people, and the planet.
Subject: Please commit to higher welfare sourcing of pork
Dear Mr. McMillon,
I am deeply concerned about the recent news that pork sold in Walmart stores tested positive for bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistant infections are a public health crisis resulting in prolonged hospitalization and higher mortality. Global health agencies have warned that we are entering a post-antibiotic era where common infections and routine surgeries may once again be life-threatening.
Walmart can be a part of the solution by committing to higher welfare sourcing for its pork supply chain, starting with requiring suppliers to end use of gestation crates by 2022.
One of the biggest factors behind the growing problem of resistance is that antibiotics are vastly overused in farming. Low-welfare practices play a significant role in this overuse. Mother pigs (sows) are routinely given antibiotics to prevent them from succumbing to urinary, hoof, vaginal, and shoulder infections as a result of the stress and injury caused by close confinement and poor living conditions. The pork industry currently accounts for 36% of all medically important antibiotics intended for farmed animals in the US.
Testing of pork from several of your stores revealed that nearly half of the batches had two or more different strains of resistant bacteria and more than half contained at least one multi-drug resistant strain. Even worse, roughly half of the batches contained bacteria resistant to classes of antibiotics labeled Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials, meaning there are few or no alternatives to these medicines for treating people. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommend these classes should never be used in animal agriculture.
This is unacceptable.
Antibiotic resistance and low-welfare pork production are both modern crises. Walmart must Care More, Do Better for pigs, people, and the planet by immediately making a public commitment to source pork only from suppliers that provide group housing by 2022.