The Co-op Group has published data on antibiotics in its food supply chains, which shows use is well below the industry average.
Concern over increased resistance to antibiotics, which has serious implications for human health, has prompted the Group to draw up a policy on their use on animals.
It does not allow the use of antibiotics on animals in its supply chain unless a vet has provided a prescription.
Head of agriculture, Ciara Gorst, said: “We’ve been working together with the British agricultural and veterinary industries, other retailers, our farmers and leading bodies to take a truly co-operative approach to tackling this challenging topic.
“We need to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance to human health, and our role as a responsible and ethical retailer dictates that we must be transparent in this area.
“The team and I have been working on this for nearly five years and it’s something I’m personally very proud of.”
The Group has introduced a new method of monitoring called Average Daily Dose, which takes the farmer’s antibiotics sales from their own vet and then divides it by the average number of cows in the period.
“Over the last two years this project has helped farmers and vets make informed choices and reduced total antibiotic use by 13% (45% in critically important antibiotics),” said Ms Gorst.
The figures, given in in miligrams per kg of population correction unit, are 12.7 for chicken (industry average: 17) and 9 for turkey (industry average 86).
Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Asda have also released figures on antibiotic use: M&S gave figures for chicken (2.5); Waitrose released data for chicken (less than 5), duck (less than 5, industry average 3) and turkey (10-15); and Asda gave figures for chicken, (7.7) duck (3.8) and turkey (9).