Action against avian influenza, salmonella and campylobacter…
Even with the best care and highest standards, from time-to-time animals get sick and need treatment. This might include antibiotics, but it’s decided on a case-by-case basis by a vet. Sometimes, bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics. This leads to the challenge of trying to restrict the spread of antibiotic resistance through controlled use, without causing animals harm or suffering. As a result, there are strict protocols for the use of antibiotics – they should only be used to treat sick animals and prevent any unnecessary suffering or cruelty. Asda does not support the use of antibiotics as growth promoters, something which has been banned within the EU since 2008.
Avian influenza (bird flu)
Avian influenza – more commonly known as bird flu – viruses are infectious diseases. Ducks, waterfowl and shore birds can spread them, while chickens and turkeys can be infected and may die.
The UK Government has a strict response to any outbreak. When there’s a case of bird flu on a farm the movement of poultry is restricted and high levels of biosecurity are put in place. Poultry may also be prevented from foraging outside. This poses problems for free range poultry farms, where outside access is important. There are regulations that mean free range poultry products can be sold ‘free range’, but only for a limited time.
Poultry, especially chickens, can carry campylobacter in their intestines. It’s a disease that can also be passed onto humans. Asda is part of a wider programme supporting the supply chain and working with other supermarkets, government agencies and the chicken farming and processing sectors to reduce campylobacter in poultry.
We take action and follow industry best practice to control campylobacter at every stage – from the farm to the customer. There is no vaccine for campylobacter, so we have to prevent it.
We are committed to driving down levels of Campylobacter and in accordance with Food Standards Agency principles will be publishing our quarterly results here.
Salmonella are a group of bacteria. In the past, poultry has been linked with cases of salmonella poisoning.
All of Asda’s eggs comply with the Lion Code. This means that our hens are vaccinated against Salmonella. Other actions, such as hygiene controls and being able to trace hens and feed, have seen a reduction in salmonella across the UK.
There was once thought to be a risk of salmonella from eating lightly cooked hen’s eggs, but the Food Standards Agency reviewed the guidance in 2016 and ruled that the risk of doing so was ‘very low’.
Our standard chickens are reared according to the Red Tractor scheme standards (assurance.redtractor.org.uk). Poultry farming is subject to minimum legal requirements established under European Union and United Kingdom jurisdictions (Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007).
Survey of health of poultry flocks
ASDA carries out periodic surveys of poultry flocks using farm data. Concerns have been raised over the physical health of chickens especially issues on leg function and the prevalence of heart attacks. These data are presented below.
2018 survey of approximatley 100k birds (two farms)
- Heart attack incidence average 0.8%
- Leg culls average 0.7%