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 | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Unlike CFPB’s “Snapshot,” PIRG report reveals which debt collectors Americans file complaints about most

News Release: Our latest report based on the CFPB's public Consumer Complaint database reviews the most-complained about debt collectors. Funny, a new CFPB complaint "snapshot" does not. The report comes as the CFPB's acting director threatens to make the database non-public. If the CFPB both shuts down the public database and continues to issue industry-friendly reports that don’t give out any real information, the public and marketplace harm is even greater.

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

Shining A Light on Consumer Problems:

Our report, Shining A Light on Consumer Problems: The Case for Public Access to the CFPB’s Financial Complaints Database, details why it is important that the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database of over one million consumer complaints remain open to the public, so consumers, researchers and others can study the financial marketplace.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Anti-public health Farm Bill fails in House

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted down the Farm Bill (H.R. 2) by a vote of 198-213. The bill was loaded with provisions that would have put public health at risk and increased the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) has called for a motion to reconsider.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Congress Affirms Need to Stop Debt Trap; Mick Mulvaney Should Follow Suit

Here is our statement on Congress allowing the deadline to pass without repealing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's payday lending rule.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Colorado Supreme Court Affirms Payday Lending Initiative Title

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Friday against the payday lending industry challenge to keep Initiative 126 off the November ballot. Supporters of the measure, including CoPIRG, can now move forward with our effort to ask voters to approve a 36 percent interest rate cap. The average annual percentage rate for payday loans in Colorado is 129 percent with some APRs climbing above 200 percent. That means a Colorado borrower would pay $119 in fees and interest to borrow the average payday loan of $392.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Volkswagen Customer Asks Dealership & Headquarters to Buy Back Defective Diesel Car

This morning, Marcus Moench, a Boulder resident, drove to the Gebhardt Volkswagen dealership and asked the dealership to buy back his 2010 Jetta Sportswagen TDI diesel car at the full original purchase price, not the current “blue book” value, to compensate for the harm of being deceived into driving a polluting vehicle. This action is part of the CoPIRG Foundation’s “Make VW Pay” campaign to hold Volkswagen accountable for deceiving half a million U.S. consumers into buying pollution-spewing cars that led to massive, undeserved profits.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

We Launch “Make VW Pay Campaign” Over EPA Cheating Scandal

We launched a “Make VW Pay Campaign” as VW's CEO resigned over the scandal surrounding its "defeat device" scheme (and subsequent cover-up) to trick EPA pollution monitoring computers in nearly half a million diesel cars sold in the U.S. We are demanding a full rebate in buy backs to customers and other accountability.

> Keep Reading

How Volkswagen Could Compensate Diesel Owners

We explain the core demand of our "Make VW Pay Campaign" in this story by New York Times columnist Ron Lieber:

He asks: "Why not just ask for whatever the cars were worth on the day before news of the scandal broke"

Our reply: "Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at U.S. PIRG, says that the drivers deserve more."

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

We Launch “Make VW Pay Campaign” Over EPA Cheating Scandal

Today we launched a “Make VW Pay Campaign” as VW's CEO resigned over the scandal surrounding its "defeat device" scheme (and subsequent cover-up) to trick EPA pollution monitoring computers in nearly half a million diesel cars sold in the U.S. We are demanding a full rebate in buy backs to customers and other accountability.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | Public Health

Colorado Consumers, Doctors, Farmers Call on Subway to Save Antibiotics

Thousands of consumers, doctors, farmers and Coloradans joined a call to action for restaurant giant Subway to phase out meats produced with routine use of antibiotics (i.e. for growth promotion and disease prevention). As the largest fast-food chains in the world, Subway’s action on this issue would help tackle the growing health crisis of antibiotic resistance.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Financial Reform

Privacy, We've Got Tips and Ideas For You, Congress and Regulators, Too | Ed Mierzwinski

Problems with privacy and data security are all over the news these days. We've got you covered, from releasing a new report and consumer tips on the security freeze today to testifying to Congress (last week) on payment card security and speaking on a panel at the FTC tomorrow on Internet lead generation (what's that?). Oh, and we're waiting for answers to our questions to the CFPB about the credit bureau Experian joining the ranks of the breached. We've been busy as we explain in this "roundup" blog entry.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

A Sub-stantial Achievement | Steve Blackledge

On October 20, Subway announced its plan to phase out antibiotics from its entire meat supply. This victory is just the next step of our mission to save antibiotics.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Victory: Subway Commits to Help Save Antibiotics | Steve Blackledge

Today, Subway announced a plan to phase out antibiotics from it's entire meat supply in response to mounting consumer demand for stronger action by the chain to help save antibiotics from overuse.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Advances Consumer Protection, Attacks on CFPB Escalate | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the CFPB took a major step toward establishing a regulation restricting the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts, which give companies what the CFPB's director said was a "free pass from being held accountable by their customers." Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, powerful bank interests escalated their campaign to defund and defang the bureau, because it works for consumers, not them.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CoPIRG

Today, the House Energy and Environment Committee approved two major bills that will reduce single-use plastic waste and pollution in Colorado. Representatives Jackson, Sirota, A. Valdez, Kipp, Hooton, Froelich, and Weissman voted in favor. 

News Release | CoPIRG

CoPIRG is calling on members of the House Energy and Environment Committee to pass two major bills today that will reduce single-use plastic waste and pollution in Colorado.  

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Congress must hold companies accountable for failing to protect condumers' confidential information.

Blog Post

It’s common-sense: If something you own breaks, you should be able to fix it. But manufacturers don’t see it that way. Instead, they use a set of tactics to block independent repair because they want consumers to have to come to them to do repairs. Right to Repair made considerable progress in 2019, and just a little over a month into 2020, we’re seeing continued momentum. 

News Release | CoPIRG

CoPIRG is calling on the Senate Local Government Committee to approve a bill that would allow cities to tackle plastic pollution in their communities. The bill, SB20-010, sponsored by Senator Kerry Donovan, would repeal the law that bans local governments from protecting their communities from plastic waste.

Public Health

EPA review insists glyphosate not linked to cancer

On Jan. 30, EPA finalized its review of the main active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto's ubiquitous weedkiller, Roundup. Despite its designation as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization's cancer research agency, the EPA reaffirmed its stance that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Read more about our campaign to ban Roundup. 

 

Solid Waste

New federal bill calls for U.S. to move beyond plastic

On Feb. 11, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal introduced legislation that would phase out unnecessary single-use plastics, which commonly end up clogging our landfills and polluting our environment. It also provides funding for recycling and composting infrastructure, and would shift the financial burden of managing waste and recyclables from town and city governments to the manufacturers.

 

Consumer Protection

More than 165,000 life-threatening infant sleepers recalled

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on Jan. 29 that four companies have issued recalls for more than 165,000 inclined infant sleepers, which fail to meet the safe sleep guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The CPSC's recall is an important step forward — we're continuing to urge manufacturers to stop producing these sleepers for good.

 

Consumer Protection

Food recall failure

Most grocery store chains are not warning their customers about dangerous food recalls. Find out if your store makes the grade.

 
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.