What is Lurking in the Pork at Walmart stores?


By World Animal Protection

via Olean Times Herald (NY) - Nov 25, 2019


NEW YORK, Nov. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, World Animal Protection, a global animal-welfare organization with offices in 14 countries released US pork and the superbug crisis: how higher welfare farming is better for pigs and people. The new report reveals that bacteria resistant to antibiotics considered highly important or critically important to human health were present in pork products purchased at Walmart stores in the eastern US.


Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as "superbugs," pose a threat to all human life. The spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a public health crisis affecting more and more people each day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate that more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. Superbugs are emerging on farms from antibiotic overuse and entering our food chain and environment. When antibiotic resistant superbugs are passed to people, they make us less able to fight disease.


"The presence of multidrug-resistant bacteria on pork products illustrates the role the pork supply chain plays in the global health crisis caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Alesia Soltanpanah, Executive Director of World Animal Protection US. "The fact that pork purchased from several Walmart stores, one of the nation's largest retailers, contains bacteria resistant to antibiotics critically important to human health is particularly alarming and should raise concerns for all Walmart customers."


One of the biggest factors behind the growing problem of antibiotic resistance is that antibiotics are vastly overused in raising farmed animals. Globally, most antibiotics are used in animal farming. While use of the drugs as growth promoters in feed and water is no longer permitted in the United States, antibiotics are still used on a routine basis to stop the spread of disease, particularly in low-welfare, factory farm systems where animals are confined in overcrowded and barren environments. Approximately 70 percent of all medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in farmed animals.


The stressful and cruel conditions on factory farms created by pork producers are the perfect breeding ground for infection. Instead of creating a better environment for pigs, producers are overusing antibiotics to stop stressed or injured animals getting sick, contributing to the rise of superbugs.


World Animal Protection tested a total of 160 pork samples purchased from several stores of Walmart and a competing national retail chain 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 commonly found in pigs and pork: E. coli, Salmonella, Enterococcus, and Listeria. Bacteria isolated from the batches were then tested for susceptibility to antibiotics.


Eighty percent of the bacteria isolated from Walmart's pork products were resistant to at least one antibiotic, including resistance to classes of antibiotics considered highly important or critically important by the World Health Organization. Furthermore, all of the bacteria resistant to four or more classes of antibiotics that we found and all bacteria resistant to Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials (HPCIAs) were found in Walmart's samples. HPCIAs are antibiotics where there are few or no alternatives to treat people with serious infections—the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends that these classes should never be used in animal agriculture.


In total, across Walmart's 15 batches there were 32 positive bacterial findings, including:


more, including list of key findings, link to report