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

Blog Post

Plastic waste solutions hiding in plain sight: Recycled content requirements | Haley Clinton

This blog is the second in a series examining policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis that are proven and replicable. This section covers recycled content requirements.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New survey: 43 major appliance companies void warranties for independent repair, despite consumer protection laws

A new survey from U.S. PIRG Education Fund finds all 43 appliance manufacturers we surveyed would consider voiding the warranty if a device had “unauthorized” repair, despite a 2018 warning from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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

Warranties in the Void II

An updated survey of warranties from 43 companies finding all tell customers they void warranties for independent repair. The continued problem of warranties wearing thin underscores the need for action on Right to Repair.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Solid Waste

Fort Collins voters say no to single-use plastic bags

In the Fort Collins municipal election, voters approved local ordinance 26, a measure that will prohibit large grocers from providing disposable plastic bags and require payment of a disposable bag fee of $0.12 for disposable paper bags. The vote comes as the state legislature debates HB21-1162, which would phase out single-use plastic bags and single-use polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, food containers and cups. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Another face of toxic-free beauty advocacy | Gina Werdel

We spoke to Je’May Ward, a clean beauty blogger from North Carolina, about what clean beauty advocacy means for her.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New survey: 43 major appliance companies void warranties for independent repair, despite consumer protection laws

A new survey from U.S. PIRG Education Fund finds all 43 appliance manufacturers we surveyed would consider voiding the warranty if a device had “unauthorized” repair, despite a 2018 warning from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Solid Waste

Fort Collins voters say no to single-use plastic bags

In the Fort Collins municipal election, voters approved local ordinance 26, a measure that will prohibit large grocers from providing disposable plastic bags and require payment of a disposable bag fee of $0.12 for disposable paper bags. The vote comes as the state legislature debates HB21-1162, which would phase out single-use plastic bags and single-use polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, food containers and cups. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Denver financial empowerment office helps thousands of residents reduce debt, save money, avoid debt traps

CoPIRG released new data highlighting the success of the Denver Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection (OFEP), which in 2020 helped thousands of Denver residents reduce debt by $1.4 million, increase savings by $227,000, avoid $826,000 in tax prep fees, and improve credit scores by an average of 43 points. CoPIRG highlighted that the Denver OFEP success underscores the role a statewide Office of Financial Empowerment could play to help leverage Denver’s success across the state.

 

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Reauthorization of Colorado's utility consumer advocate takes step forward

The Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee approved SB21-103 and moved the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) one step closer to reauthorization. Over the last 30 years, the OCC has saved consumers $1.7 billion - with average annual consumer savings of $113 million over the last five years.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Transportation

Time to remove unnecessary state rules that undermine Denver regional transit

CoPIRG is calling on the House Committee on Transportation and Local Government to pass HB21-1186, entitled Regional Transportation District Operation, sponsored by Representatives Gray and Sullivan, and Senators Winter and Bridges. The bill would remove a set of state requirements that are unnecessary and could be counterproductive to operating a transit system that can transport more people.

> 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 | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Warranties in the Void II

An updated survey of warranties from 43 companies finding all tell customers they void warranties for independent repair. The continued problem of warranties wearing thin underscores the need for action on Right to Repair.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Data from the Denver Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection

Data provided by the Denver Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection shows that thousands of people were helped in 2020.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation and U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

What Coloradans Are Fixing 2021

Here in Colorado, we want to fix our stuff – even during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a review of data from iFixit, which describes itself as the “repair guide for everything, written by everyone,” over 1 million unique users from Colorado went to www.iFixit.com to look up how to repair something in 2020. Even as repairing our devices for learning and working became critical to staying safe, 6 of the top 10 most popular manufacturers of devices that Coloradans were trying to fix restrict access to parts and service information

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Frontier Group | Consumer Protection

Consumers in Peril

A review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public complaint database finds that consumer complaints about financial grievances spiked during the pandemic year of 2020, eclipsing 2019, the previous record year. Analysis of complaint volumes and the types of complaints received shows that, as consumers dealt with the economic fallout of the pandemic, they increasingly faced  problems with financial companies.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

Plastic waste solutions hiding in plain sight: Recycled content requirements | Haley Clinton

This blog is the second in a series examining policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis that are proven and replicable. This section covers recycled content requirements.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Another face of toxic-free beauty advocacy | Gina Werdel

We spoke to Je’May Ward, a clean beauty blogger from North Carolina, about what clean beauty advocacy means for her.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

We're calling on the FTC to take action on Right to Repair | Nathan Proctor

The FTC is due to report on repair restrictions, and we’re pressing for real action to follow. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Plastic waste solutions hiding in plain sight: Single-use plastic product bans | Haley Clinton

This blog is the first in a series examining policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis that are proven and replicable. This section covers single-use plastic product bans.

> 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

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

An updated survey of warranties from 43 companies finding all tell customers they void warranties for independent repair. The continued problem of warranties wearing thin underscores the need for action on Right to Repair.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A new survey from U.S. PIRG Education Fund finds all 43 appliance manufacturers we surveyed would consider voiding the warranty if a device had “unauthorized” repair, despite a 2018 warning from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Blog Post

This blog is the second in a series examining policy solutions to the plastic pollution crisis that are proven and replicable. This section covers recycled content requirements.

News Release | CoPIRG

In the Fort Collins municipal election, voters approved local ordinance 26, a measure that will prohibit large grocers from providing disposable plastic bags and require payment of a disposable bag fee of $0.12 for disposable paper bags. The vote comes as the state legislature debates HB21-1162, which would phase out single-use plastic bags and single-use polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, food containers and cups. 

Blog Post

We spoke to Je’May Ward, a clean beauty blogger from North Carolina, about what clean beauty advocacy means for her.

Transportation

Colorado puts safety first with $30 million investment in transportation

Gov. Jared Polis has signed a bill dedicating an additional $30 million to Colorado’s Safer Main Streets and Revitalizing Main Streets programs. Funded projects will range from sidewalk and other pedestrian improvements, to upgraded safety at intersections and new paths that provide safer space for biking.

 

Consumer Protection

Report: Colorado consumers faced major challenges with credit bureaus, debt collectors in 2020

If you were treated unfairly by a financial company such as a credit bureau in 2020, you're not alone. "Consumers in Peril," a CoPIRG Foundation report on the top marketplace threats that Americans faced in 2020, found that problems with banks, credit bureaus and debt collectors were among the top consumer complaints.

 

Tell Whole Foods: Move Beyond Plastic

Whole Foods has led on plastics in the past, but the company recently got an "F" in a report by As You Sow for failing to tackle plastic pollution. Tell Whole Foods' CEO to get rid single-use plastics in its stores.

 

COVID-19

Nursing Home Safety During COVID

Ongoing research by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, analyzing government data, shows that too many of the 1.3 million Americans residing in the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes are at risk due to dangerous shortages of personal protective equipment and/or staff.

 
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 social change.