Antibiotics

Last updated: 16.09.2020

Tesco is part of the Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials which has the stated vision of ‘Retailers, manufacturers, processors and food service companies coming together to promote and support responsible antimicrobial use and action on antimicrobial resistance’. The intention of this initiative is to support and engage with existing industry groups working in this area, ensuring work is aligned, avoiding duplication of effort and it has 3 key working groups on Responsible Use, Data and Research & Development.”

The Tesco antibiotic use commitments were developed and published in 2017 to ensure responsible antibiotic use is a key area of focus for our supply chains. These commitments were developed with our supply chain and industry experts.

1. We restrict the use of the highest priority “critically important” antibiotics for human health (fluoroquinolones, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporin’s and colistin) as defined by the European Medicine Agency in our supply chain and make sure these antibiotics are used only as a treatment of last resort, where no other viable treatment is available to prevent animal welfare issues. We are working with our suppliers to reduce the use of other critically important antibiotics, including macrolides.

2. We work with our suppliers to make sure there is no unauthorised use of veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, in our supply chain.

3. We do not allow the routine use of antibiotics for prophylactic purposes in our supply chain. Preventative treatment is only allowed where animals are diagnosed at high risk of bacterial disease, and must only occur under prescription by a veterinarian on the basis of epidemiological and clinical knowledge in line with Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA).

4. We measure antibiotic use in our supply chain. We have made antibiotic usage and records a key feature of our farm audit programme. Visibility of records of any antibiotic usage at Tesco supplying farms is required to enable us to monitor levels of use and to help target reduction strategies.

5. We will implement the UK species specific targets for antibiotic reduction (as defined by RUMA and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate) in our supply chain. From 2018, once we have sufficient data to establish a baseline, we will make sure that each of our animal sector supply chains have targeted reduction strategies in place to make sure they meet the specific national target for that species.

6. We will help build farmers capability on antibiotic use and animal health in our supply chain, to help them to reduce use without compromising animal welfare. We will work with our Product Partners, wider suppliers and other bodies to identify the right educational approaches and the best ways to share this knowledge among farmers.

7. We will support Research and Development (R&D) opportunities that will help drive the reduction of on farm antibiotic use. With our Product Partners we are already working with the Government Agri-tech Centres of Innovation to identify R&D opportunities.

Progress on our antibiotic use commitments can be found here