A pig in a high welfare farm

Superbugs found in pork from Carrefour Spain and Walmart Brazil


We found these superbugs – bacteria resistant to antibiotics most critically important to humans – in pork on supermarket shelves in Spain, Thailand, and Brazil. This is a result of the overuse of antibiotics in the cruel factory farming of pigs

The superbug crisis 

Superbugs in the food chain can cause food poisoning, blood poisoning, urinary tract infections and in some cases, even death.  

By current estimates, superbugs are killing 700,000 people every year. 

Antibiotics and factory farming 

This shocking result of our investigation highlights how the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming is propping up a broken system.  

Three quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used in farming each year, with the highest use in pigs. Routine overuse is often associated with low-welfare practices.  

For pigs on factory farms, this means: piglets are taken from their mothers far too early mother pigs are used as breeding machines, kept in steel cages no bigger than a fridge, and are unable to turn around piglets are cruelly mutilated often with no pain relief: their tails are cut, their teeth are ground or clipped, their ears notched. Most male piglets are castrated pigs are cramped in dark, squalid warehouses forced to lie in their own waste.  

These stressful and cruel conditions created by pork producers are the perfect breeding ground for infection. Instead of creating a better environment for pigs, they’re overusing antibiotics to stop stressed animals getting sick, causing superbugs.  

Supermarkets must act 

We’re calling for global supermarkets to improve the lives of pigs by only sourcing pork from high-welfare farms. 

Learn about our Raise Pigs Right campaign here. 

Our head of campaign – raise pigs right, Jacqueline Mills, said: “We tested pork products to see for ourselves how the pig industry contributes to superbugs, and to provide evidence to supermarkets to urge them to take responsibility and help to raise pigs right. 

“Factory farm conditions for pigs cause them immense pain and stress, which leads to excessive use of antibiotics. But there is a better way. Supermarkets must demand their suppliers improve the welfare of pigs.” 

Our work: a better future for farming 

We are working with producers to develop higher welfare systems, to get pigs out of cages and into social groups, to end painful mutilations and to provide manipulable materials to allow for expression of natural behaviour.  

Find out more about our farming work. 

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