Superbugs found in pork sold at Walmart stores in the US

We recently released our latest report, US pork and the superbug crisis, and the findings are hitting close to home. Our investigation found superbugs in pork sold at Walmart stores in the US!

Poor welfare practices lead to overuse of antibiotics

Antibiotics are routinely used by meat producers to manage poor animal health in intensive systems. Low-welfare practices play a significant role in the continued use of important antibiotics and contribute to the spread of resistant bacteria to humans via food and the environment.

Our testing of pork from Walmart US 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, or “superbug”. Walmart US’s batches also tested positive for Salmonella or to have multi-drug resistant E. coli present.

Employing high-welfare practices on farms will also reduce the use antibiotics for disease prevention.

Urge Walmart Inc. to commit to higher welfare sourcing

While Walmart Inc. (Global) 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 Inc. is lagging behind the times, it needs to move forward by making animal welfare a priority, as it is for its customers.

Tell Walmart Inc. to set higher welfare policies for its pork suppliers that can reduce reliance on antibiotics, starting with ending gestation crates.

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More info about our findings

The findings showed that 80% of the bacteria isolated from Walmart’s pork products were resistant to at least one antibiotic, with significant resistance to classes of antibiotics considered highly important or critically important by the World Health Organization.

A total of 160 samples of pork were purchased from several stores of Walmart and a competing national retailer over a period of several days in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The samples, 80 from each retailer, were analyzed by researchers at Texas Tech University (TTU) in 32 batches of five samples each for the presence of bacteria that cause illness in humans: E. coli, Salmonella, Enterococcus, and Listeria. Bacteria isolated from the batches were then tested for susceptibility to antibiotics.

According to the data provided to World Animal Protection by TTU, a total of 51 bacteria were isolated from 30 batches including:

  • Enterococcus in 27 batches;
  • E. coli in 14 batches;
  • Salmonella in six batches, and;
  • Listeria in four batches.

Act now, tell Walmart Inc. it must do better for pigs, people, and the planet.