Using fewer antibiotics in agriculture
There has been a lot written in the media recently about antibiotic resistance and as a result antibiotic use in agriculture is firmly in the spotlight.
Just as you’d expect, we work hard to ensure that our farmers are responsible in the way that they use antibiotics whilst delivering the very highest standards of animal welfare performance. For some time, we’ve had a policy in place to reduce antibiotic use in agriculture - this forms part of our Codes of Practice, which all the farms that supply us must follow. It is important that our leading standards of animal welfare aren’t compromised and that animals continue to receive the very best care possible if they are ill or injured.
Our approach follows a framework of 4Rs:
In practice, what this means is that no animal grown for M&S is ever treated with antibiotics unless it is ill and the vet and farmer have considered all other available treatments. All our farmers must record antibiotic usage and we are committed to achieving annual reduction targets. We also monitor animal welfare through the recording of outcome measures, so that we can be certain that animal welfare is safeguarded.
Because there are some important antibiotics that the government has identified as being critical to human health, our policy also prohibits farmers using these (e.g. fluroquinolones, fourth and fifth generation cephalosporins and macrolides) and Colistin has also been removed in response to latest evidence.
We will continue to work closely with our farmers, and with leading scientists, to find alternative approaches that reduce the need to use antibiotics whilst maintaining or enhancing animal welfare. It is a complex area, but we are committed to leading the way on this important issue for the benefit of us all.