Perceptions, understandings, and behaviours along the pork food chain relating to antimicrobial resistance in the UK

  • Hollie Bradford

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections difficult or impossible to treat. AMR is now recognised as a global public health issue, threatening the treatment and control of various diseases, and hampering the use of new modern medicines. The use of antimicrobials in livestock production is of increasing concern as usage has been linked to the emergence of resistant bacteria in humans. The UK pig industry is of particular concern due to its intensive nature, using more antimicrobials than other livestock production sectors. Yet, existing research has focused on sole and dual stakeholder perspectives, not taking into account the views of all key pork food chain actors as a unified entity. To understand fully the practices and drivers of antimicrobial use and resistance in the pork industry, it is necessary to assess the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours along the pork chain from a multi-stakeholder perspective (farmers, veterinary surgeons, processors, retailers, consumers).

Thus, using a mixed methods approach this thesis investigates the perceptions and attitudes towards agricultural antimicrobial use and AMR from farmer to consumer, encompassing various intermediary stakeholders throughout the pork supply chain. It uncovers the drivers and practices of the pork industry and the views of chain actors towards antimicrobial use and AMR. It also identifies sector-specific practices and reduction methods, and how inter- stakeholder relationships influence farm practices. Results found that themes influencing farmers AMU include knowledge and awareness of AMR, disease and perceived need for treatment, use of alternatives, farm characteristics, economic considerations, veterinary surgeon – farmer relationship, external pressures, and production stage. Various perceptions and behaviours were uncovered at each stage of the supply chain, as well as supply chain relationships, and the influence that stakeholders have on one another. Understanding these perceptions and inter-stakeholder relationships, can greatly inform future interventions that seek to overcome antibiotic-related issues such as AMR and provide opportunities to foster a collaborative approach among chain actors.

Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorMoira Dean (Supervisor) & Christopher Elliott (Supervisor)


  • AMR
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antibiotic resistance
  • antibiotic use
  • agriculture
  • pigs
  • pork chain
  • food supply chain

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