Walmart toughens stance on antibiotics in meat and seafood


James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
May 26, 2015

Walmart, the world’s largest food retailer, last week pressed all of its meat and seafood suppliers to restrict the use of antibiotics and published a list of voluntary guidelines regarding acceptable veterinary drug administration.

While the company recognizes that antibiotics are “one of many critical tools used to keep animals healthy,” it urged producers to use them responsibly to preserve the effectiveness of the drugs in human and veterinary medicine.

Responsible use begins with the adoption and implementation of judicious use principles, such as those developed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Judicious use includes disease prevention strategies, appropriate veterinary oversight, accurate record-keeping and careful review before antibiotics are used.

Suppliers to U.S. Walmart and Sam’s Club stores must comply with all federal, state and local regulatory requirements as well as Walmart food safety standards. The company is asking all suppliers to also adopt and implement AVMA Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobials in their operations, including, but not limited to disease prevention strategies; appropriate veterinary oversight; accurate records of treatment and outcomes; careful review before antibiotics are used; and limit medical antibiotic use to ill or at-risk animals.

Antibiotics are not to be used for growth promotion, the company added.

In the United States, antibiotics must be approved as safe and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many antibiotics used in livestock production are also used in human medicine, and are categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “medically important antimicrobials.”

Misuse of antibiotics may lead to antibiotic-resistance in bacteria, making human and animal disease more difficult to treat. According to  WHO, antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing threat to global public health.

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