Sir: Your article ‘Sainsbury’s surveys use of livestock drugs’ (30 March) connected Sainsbury’s decision to survey livestock farmers on their practices relating to medicine and antibiotic use in animals with the horsemeat scare. This is incorrect and misleading, not least because Sainsbury’s has not been implicated in this issue in any way.
The fact is, we have been planning this survey for many months, and announced the initiative to our Development Group farmers at our Farming Conference back in December - six weeks before the horsemeat issue was discovered.
The purpose of the survey is to accurately measure medicine usage in livestock, in recognition of concerns about antimicrobial resistance. We will carry out sample surveys in conjunction with industry experts and practitioners and use the information to identify and share best practice.
At Sainsbury’s we’re proud of our record of supporting British farmers and growers and have, to date, invested £30m in our farmer development groups over the last six years.
Sue Lockhart, head of agriculture at Sainsbury’s
The Editor responds: Our story referenced ‘Horsegate’ to provide some context to growing consumer concerns over food sourcing in general, rather than to suggest Sainsbury’s survey was a consequence of the scandal. Sainsbury’s consultants EBVC wrote in a letter to farmers (2 January 2013): “Consumers have a growing awareness of the source of the food that they purchase and concern over a potential impact on human and animal health is growing.” The phrase “in the wake of” was used in our story because any new Sainsbury’s policy will be introduced after January’s scandal.