Costco Sets Stricter Standards for Antibiotic Use by Poultry Suppliers
Club-store chain Costco Wholesale Club has established a new set of standards and monitoring requirements concerning antibiotics important to human health and their use in meat production, The Seattle Times has reported.
The Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, which currently is developing its own poultry-processing plant, notes that its goal is to control the use of antibiotics medically important to humans in its meat and poultry supply chains, consistent with protecting the health and welfare of its members and of poultry, hogs and cattle in its supply chains.
"Our policy is to limit application of these antibiotics to therapeutic use for the prevention, control and treatment of disease and not, for example, for purposes of growth promotion or feed efficiency, and only under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian in a valid veterinary client-patient relationship," the retailer said on its website. "We will work with our suppliers and producers over the next two years to develop and apply protocols for assessing compliance with this policy, which may include, by way of example, requiring the provision of certificates or affidavits by producers, review of audits commissioned by producers and suppliers, audits commissioned by Costco Wholesale, and product testing."
On or before December 2020, Costco plans to set a target date by which compliance with the policy will be mandatory and monitored, as well as to assess the feasibility of eliminating the routine use of medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease among supplier farms.
According to the Times, the overuse of antibiotics intended for human health has contributed to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if not addressed, according to the World Health Organization. Costco's poultry operation – which sold 61 million rotisserie chickens in fiscal 2017 – is large enough to give the retailer strong influence over its suppliers.
Costco Wholesale Corp. operates 768 warehouses in more than 10 countries, including 533 locations in the United States. It also operates ecommerce sites in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan.