antibiotic-resistant bacteria pigs

Overuse of medicines on factory farms


Study finds antibiotic-resistant bacteria in UK pork putting both human and animal health at risk. We're calling for the UK government to end factory farming for good.

The study was conducted by researchers at Fera Science and World Animal Protection and examined 103 meat samples from major UK supermarkets and online outlets finding the bacteria enterococci in 25 products. 

Of these, 23 samples were found to have superbugs, bacteria that has resistance to antibiotics used to treat infections. This resistance increases when antibiotics are overused or misused and becomes a health risk for everyone. A trend was observed with a higher level of resistant and multi-resistant bacteria found in non-assured and Red Tractor Assured sample groups than in RSPCA assured and organic/soil association assured sample groups.


Table 1. Number of samples divided by production method

“The samples showed that meat from labels with higher welfare practices such as RSPCA Assured and Organic/Soil Association had a lower resistance to a smaller range of antibiotics and labels with no assurance scheme or Red Tractor Assured had higher resistance.”

“This could indicate that antibiotics are being overused in low welfare farms to stop animals getting sick in poor conditions and exasperating the world’s drug resistance crisis. We’re calling on the UK Government to end the routine use of antibiotics on farm animals, as the EU has recently done, and to acknowledge that a reduction in animal product consumption is needed to address the countless issues caused by factory farming,” 

Lindsay Duncan - Farming Campaigns Manager, World Animal Protection UK


Changes are needed to improve the health of people and animals including re-orientating subsidies away from factory farming towards humane and sustainable practices, improving affordability of plant-based foods, and providing transition support for farmers no longer wishing to engage in factory farming. 
To make these shifts, World Animal Protection is calling for the UK government to end the growth of factory farming and ban the routine use of antibiotics on herds of healthy animals in line with EU legislation and enforce higher farmed animal welfare standards. 

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Image credits: World Animal Protection/Emi Kondo

Pork products sold at UK supermarkets contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria indicating the overuse of medicines on factory farms.

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