The discovery of antibiotics was one of the greatest achievements in medicine. But today, antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs) have led us into a post-antibiotic era. Vital medicines are no longer as effective, and routine procedures are again life-threatening.
Antibiotics in farming
Important antibiotics are routinely used to prop up low-welfare farming practices.
Despite years of pressure and progress globally, 70 percent of medically important antibiotics in the United States are still sold for use in animals, around 36 percent in the pork industry.
Mounting evidence shows antibiotic residues leak into the food chain and environment, and superbugs develop and spread through the food chain or via workers.
Last year, testing found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pork sold at Walmart. Roughly 27 percent of these resistant bacteria were resistant to the Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials (HPCIA), drugs for which there are few or no alternatives to treat serious infections.
Also tested was the pork of another leading national retailer. None of its samples contained bacteria resistant to critically important antibiotics or HPCIAs.
Pregnant pigs are routinely given antibiotics to prevent urinary, hoof, vaginal, or shoulder infections that result from the stress and injury caused by poor conditions.
Walmart has not yet committed to requiring its pork suppliers to end the use of gestation crates, whereas the second retailer has. Gestation crates are physical restraints that prevent pregnant pigs from taking more than a couple of steps or turning around; they are confined to this crate for weeks on end.
84 percent of Walmart customers want to see this cruelty banned, and industry practices cannot continue to put animals and public health at risk.
Walmart must care more and do better by publicly committing to source pork only from suppliers that provide open housing that promotes healthier, happier pigs.