Stop The Overuse Of Antibiotics on Factory Farms

A GROWING THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 23,000 people die every year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and warns that the widespread overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is putting our health at risk.

WHAT IF ANTIBIOTICS STOPPED WORKING?

If you are like most Americans, you or someone in your family has been prescribed antibiotics to treat an illness. Maybe it was a simple ear infection, or strep throat. Or maybe it was something potentially life-threatening, like pneumonia or a post-surgery infection.  

We assume that when we get an infectious illness the antibiotics our doctors prescribe for us will make us better. But what if they didn’t? Medical experts, including from the World Health Organization, are warning that if we don’t stop the overuse of antibiotics, they could stop working — with potentially grave consequences for public health. 

ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE ON FACTORY FARMS

Despite these warnings, many factory farms are giving antibiotics to healthy livestock on a routine basis. Why? Crowded and unsanitary conditions, along with other practices used on factory farms can put animals’ health at risk. 

But, instead of treating sick animals with antibiotics when they get an infection, many farming operations just distribute antibiotics to all of their animals as a preventative measure. Factory farms also discovered that giving animals a regular dose of antibiotics made them gain weight faster. And now, approximately 70% of all medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in livestock and poultry

Antibiotics are meant to be given in precise doses to treat specific types of infections. When they are used on a routine, or regular basis by farming operations, it increases the likelihood that bacteria resistant to the antibiotics will grow and spread, and our life-saving medicines won't work.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections." And a recent study estimated that unless action is taken, these infections could kill more people worldwide by 2050 than cancer does today. 

HEALTH PROFESSIONALS RAISING THE ALARM

The calls for action from the public health community are growing louder, and more urgent. For instance, World Health Organization officials said: "Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill." 

Doctors are also overwhelmingly concerned. In a poll released by CoPIRG and Consumer Reports, 93% of doctors polled said they were concerned about the practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention. In addition, 85% of doctors polled said that in the last year, one or more of their patients had a presumed or confirmed case of a drug-resistant infection

IT’S TIME FOR ACTION ON ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE

CoPIRG is organizing the public to push for change. We’ve collected more than 200,000 petitions from citizens and families, built a coalition of more than 30,000 doctors and members of the medical community, and enlisted the support of farmers who raise their livestock without misusing antibiotics.

Large farming operations and the drug industry have resisted change, and have so far blocked efforts in Congress and from government agencies. But now, we're working to convince big restaurants to pressure these farms to change their practices.  


View video credits here.

BIG FARMS & RESTAURANTS NEED TO DO THEIR PART

In March 2015, we helped convince McDonald’s to stop serving chicken raised on our life-saving medicines. Shortly after, Tyson Foods, a major chicken producer and McDonald's supplier, followed suit. Then, in October, we convinced Subway, with more restaurants than any other chain in the United States, to make a commitment to stop serving any meat raised on antibiotics.

Most recently, we helped move KFC, the fried chicken giant, to commit to a policy that by the end of 2018 all chicken purchased by the company in the United States will be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine. As a major chicken buyer, and a company whose supply chain is far reaching, KFC’s new commitment could push the U.S. chicken industry drastically away from the routine use of medically important antibiotics.  

These were huge victories to protect public health, but now, other major chains need to take action. 

Unsurprisingly, the industry is fighting back, trying to confuse consumers with misleading arguments about whether these commitments mean sick animals won't get treatment or whether there are antibiotics in the meat. But we know that's not true, and not the problem here. The problem is that farms are giving antibiotics to animals on a routine basis as a preventative measure — not just to treat sick animals. That routine use can turn farms into breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria. And that's why our call is for meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

With thousands of Americans dying, and millions more getting sick from antibiotic-resistant infections every year, it's time for more chains to follow the lead of Subway, McDonald's, KFC and many others.

If we don’t take decisive action soon, we could face a world in which life-saving antibiotics no longer work. This is why we need your help today.  

Issue updates

News Release | CoPIRG | COVID-19

CoPIRG calls for Colorado to shut down, start over and do it right

Exactly five months after the first confirmed Colorado COVID case was announced, CoPIRG is calling for Colorado to shut down and start over. Since March 5, almost 48,000 Coloradans have contracted COVID-19, and 1,710 Coloradans have died from it and the number of deaths has been stubbornly consistent over the last few weeks.  

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Tips

CoPIRG highlights free online resources consumers can use to fix their stuff at home

CoPIRG, Representative Brianna Titone, and Representative Jonathan Singer will host a webinar to give consumers resources they can use to fix the broken stuff they have at home and talk about Right to Repair, a policy reflected in HB20-1195 the Consumer Digital Repair Bill of Rights, which Representative Titone and Representative Singer sponsored this legislative session.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG

John Lewis, 1940-2020

John Lewis was an American hero.

Most people knew him as a champion of civil rights, whether as a young man marching for freedom on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 or serving as the “conscience of the Congress” for the past 33 years. Yet John Lewis was also a dependable ally on public interest issues, a tenacious advocate of voting reform and open government, consumer protection and a healthy environment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | COVID-19

Colorado groups applaud Gov. Polis's mask wearing order

Seventeen health, medical, labor, and public interest organizations sent a letter to Governor Polis applauding his actions to require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The letter emphasized the importance of requiring mask wearing in Colorado to save lives. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

Shut down, start over, do it right. | Matt Wellington

Few people living today remember what it was like to live through a world war, but that’s what we’re in, and we’re going to have to sacrifice if we want to save ourselves and each other. Just as the greatest generation did, we need to step up to what history has delivered.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CoPIRG | COVID-19

CoPIRG calls for Colorado to shut down, start over and do it right

Exactly five months after the first confirmed Colorado COVID case was announced, CoPIRG is calling for Colorado to shut down and start over. Since March 5, almost 48,000 Coloradans have contracted COVID-19, and 1,710 Coloradans have died from it and the number of deaths has been stubbornly consistent over the last few weeks.  

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Tips

CoPIRG highlights free online resources consumers can use to fix their stuff at home

CoPIRG, Representative Brianna Titone, and Representative Jonathan Singer will host a webinar to give consumers resources they can use to fix the broken stuff they have at home and talk about Right to Repair, a policy reflected in HB20-1195 the Consumer Digital Repair Bill of Rights, which Representative Titone and Representative Singer sponsored this legislative session.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG

John Lewis, 1940-2020

John Lewis was an American hero.

Most people knew him as a champion of civil rights, whether as a young man marching for freedom on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 or serving as the “conscience of the Congress” for the past 33 years. Yet John Lewis was also a dependable ally on public interest issues, a tenacious advocate of voting reform and open government, consumer protection and a healthy environment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | COVID-19

Colorado groups applaud Gov. Polis's mask wearing order

Seventeen health, medical, labor, and public interest organizations sent a letter to Governor Polis applauding his actions to require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The letter emphasized the importance of requiring mask wearing in Colorado to save lives. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | COVID-19

Victory: Gov. Polis signs price gouging bill into law

In response to the proliferation of unscrupulous sellers attempting to profit off of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill this week giving the attorney general greater ability to protect Coloradans from price gouging. The law (HB20-1414), sponsored by Reps. Mike Weissman and Brianna Titone and Sens. Mike Foote and Brittany Pettersen, makes it illegal for entities to sell food, fuel, medical supplies or other necessities for an excessive price during a declared emergency. Colorado will join the nearly 40 states that have specific price gouging statutes. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Defending Colorado’s Consumer Advocate

For 30 years, Colorado’s consumer advocate, the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), has gone to bat for Colorado consumers on gas, electric and telephone matters. All told, it has saved Coloradans more than $1.7 billion on their bills. Despite this track record of success, in 2015 the state legislature came close to eliminating it. CoPIRG helped mobilize public support and generate media attention to save the OCC.

> Keep Reading
Result | Democracy

Delivering one million petitions to President Obama on dark money

U.S. PIRG joined a broad coalition to deliver one million petitions from Americans, including U.S. PIRG members and supporters, calling on President Obama to shine a light on dark money, or secret political spending.

> Keep Reading

30 years of toy safety

For the past thirty years, our sister organization U.S. PIRG Education Fund has taken a close look at the safety of toys sold in stores. Their reports have led to more than 150 regulatory actions. In November 2015, they released our 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

> Keep Reading
Result | Democracy

Giving more Americans a greater voice in our elections

In our democracy, the size of your wallet shouldn’t determine the volume of your voice. In 2015, we helped win reforms in Maine and Seattle to ensure that more Americans have a greater say in our elections. Seattle’s Initiative-122 empowers small donors with “democracy vouchers” that can be donated to local candidates and lowers the cap on contributions. In Maine, the state’s Clean Elections Act was improved by strengthening campaign finance disclosure laws and offering qualifying candidates increased public funding.

> Keep Reading
Result | Public Health

Convincing McDonald’s and Subway to protect public health

In 2015, bolstered by the support of more than 100,000 members and supporters, we convinced both McDonald’s and Subway to take action to protect public health. In March, just two days after we delivered more than 30,000 petitions to McDonald’s headquarters, the company announced that they would stop serving chicken raised on medically-important antibiotics. And in October, after more than 100,000 called on the chain to take action, Subway announced a similar policy for all the meat they serve.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | CoPIRG | COVID-19

Open Safe Colorado

COVID Exit Strategy (www.covidexitstrategy.org), a non-partisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards meeting the CDC recommended benchmarks states should reach before reopening their economies. As of the June 29th, only three states were meeting these metrics, earning a “Green” rating. Currently, Colorado is failing 3 out of 4 of the benchmarks, and is rated “Red” by COVID Exit Strategy.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Putting Consumers First

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action have released a report recommending that  CFPB should use the full extent of its authority to take immediate action to strengthen its consumer complaint tool, hold companies accountable for providing complete and timely responses to consumers, and leverage consumer complaints related to the pandemic to support oversight and regulatory action to protect consumers.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Solid Waste

The State of Recycling National Survey

Recycling challenges vary across the country, but, overall, states are failing to both reduce unnecessary waste and adjust to a changing recycling landscape, according to a new study from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center. The State Of Recycling U.S. National Survey looks at programs in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, providing case studies and insight into specific issues that plague recycling efforts nationwide.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG and Eco-Cycle | Solid Waste

State of Recycling in Colorado 2019

2018 and 2019 have been tumultuous years for recycling markets around the U.S. and the world, some of the worst ever seen. Here in Colorado, we have weathered the storm better than most states, and we continue to inch forward on recycling with new community programs and a slight increase in tons recycled. However, we still lag far behind the national average and must substantially pick up the pace if we are to meet our state recycling goals. 

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG | Democracy

Small donors driving 2020 presidential race

U.S. PIRG analyzed the campaign finance reports from 2020 candidates. We found that small donations, and the people who provide them, have a significant voice in the presidential race.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | COVID-19

Shut down, start over, do it right. | Matt Wellington

Few people living today remember what it was like to live through a world war, but that’s what we’re in, and we’re going to have to sacrifice if we want to save ourselves and each other. Just as the greatest generation did, we need to step up to what history has delivered.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

Masks save lives - the Governor made the right call to require mask wearing | Danny Katz

Health experts highlight how wearing a mask is a simple action we can all take to save lots of lives in Colorado. We all need to do it. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

A simple way to thwart COVID-19 is right in front of our faces | Abe Scarr

U.S. PIRG is calling on municipal, state and federal policymakers to mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor locations where it’s hard for people to socially distance six feet apart.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

A promise to our kids: school buses and a healthier planet | Allison Conwell

Kids need to be exposed to as little air pollution as possible. A key way that we can preserve the promises of the future is ensuring that the buses they take to and from school and field trips are powered by electricity and not fossil fuels. Xcel Energy has released their Transportation Electrification Plan (TEP), and this plan has a proposal to invest over $2 million in helping schools make the switch from dirty gas-powered school buses to clean electric school buses. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

U.S. House passes major credit reporting reform | Ed Mierzwinski

On Monday, the U.S. House approved H.R. 5332, the Protecting Your Credit Score Act of 2020 (Gottheimer-NJ). U.S. PIRG joined other leading advocates of credit reporting reform in a support letter to the House last week. The bill takes a number of steps to make it easier to fix credit reporting errors.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

Superbugs Unplugged: PIRG launches podcast about antibiotic resistance

Get ready for some alarming stories—and they're all the more alarming because they're true.

On Nov. 14, U.S. PIRG and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) of George Washington University launched "Superbugs Unplugged," a podcast that will dive into the alarming issue of antibiotic resistance and how we can slow it. Matt Wellington, our Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics campaign director, is co-hosting the podcast, along with Dr. Lance Price of ARAC. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Congress is investigating how Apple restricts our right to repair

Congress is taking a look at the ways that Apple makes it harder to fix our iPhones, iPads and other products as a part of a larger antitrust investigation.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

The most comprehensive plastic pollution reduction bill in the country stalled in California. Here's what we do next.

California came close to passing the most ambitious legislation aimed at reducing plastic pollution in the country. But not close enough.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Kids are back at school. How do we make sure their water is safe to drink?

It's not just Flint or Newark. Parents and teachers are concerned about lead in drinking water throughout the country. And they're looking for steps they can take to get the lead out.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Good news for consumers: A big database of consumer complaints will stay public

In a win for consumer protection and transparency in the marketplace, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will keep its complaint database public.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CoPIRG

Exactly five months after the first confirmed Colorado COVID case was announced, CoPIRG is calling for Colorado to shut down and start over. Since March 5, almost 48,000 Coloradans have contracted COVID-19, and 1,710 Coloradans have died from it and the number of deaths has been stubbornly consistent over the last few weeks.  

News Release | CoPIRG

CoPIRG, Representative Brianna Titone, and Representative Jonathan Singer will host a webinar to give consumers resources they can use to fix the broken stuff they have at home and talk about Right to Repair, a policy reflected in HB20-1195 the Consumer Digital Repair Bill of Rights, which Representative Titone and Representative Singer sponsored this legislative session.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

John Lewis was an American hero.

Most people knew him as a champion of civil rights, whether as a young man marching for freedom on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965 or serving as the “conscience of the Congress” for the past 33 years. Yet John Lewis was also a dependable ally on public interest issues, a tenacious advocate of voting reform and open government, consumer protection and a healthy environment.

Blog Post

Few people living today remember what it was like to live through a world war, but that’s what we’re in, and we’re going to have to sacrifice if we want to save ourselves and each other. Just as the greatest generation did, we need to step up to what history has delivered.

News Release | CoPIRG

Seventeen health, medical, labor, and public interest organizations sent a letter to Governor Polis applauding his actions to require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The letter emphasized the importance of requiring mask wearing in Colorado to save lives. 

Public Health

Responding to the COVID crisis

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that our government has a coordinated, strategic response to safeguard the public’s health, protect consumers from emerging dangers and ensure people can still participate fully in our democracy.

 

Public Health

Colorado groups commend Gov. Polis for face mask executive order

CoPIRG and sixteen other health and public interest organizations wrote a letter thanking Gov. Jared Polis for his executive order requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The letter emphasized that the transmission of COVID-19 is greatly reduced when 70 to 80 percent of people wear masks.

 

Consumer Protection

Gov. Polis signs anti-price gouging bill into law

Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law a CoPIRG-backed bill that makes it illegal to sell food, fuel, medical supplies or other necessities for excessively high prices during a declared emergency. In Colorado and across the country, some sellers have been using the pandemic to take advantage of consumers by dramatically raising prices for essential goods.

 

Transportation

Colorado Department of Transportation pledges millions toward improving pedestrian safety

In a win for pedestrian safety, the Colorado Department of Transportation has pledged more than $37 million toward fixing intersections and building and improving sidewalks and pedestrian signals on urban main streets in Denver.

 
View AllRSS Feed

support us

Your donation supports CoPIRG's work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

consumer alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



CoPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.