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

Xcel's transportation electrification plan is coming and its important | Allison Conwell

This Friday, Xcel Energy, the largest energy utility in Colorado, will release its Transportation Electrification Plan. This is a big deal and I've got some recommedations to make sure we maximize the environmental and consumer benefits. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

U.S. PIRG Supports Automated Contact Tracing Because More Than Anything Else, America Needs Good Information Before It Can Safely Lift Stay-At-Home Rules | Ed Mierzwinski

This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

Health pros call for transparent, central coordination from Trump administration

U.S. PIRG, Get Us PPE, Doctors for America, and several other health groups, along with nearly 300 medical professionals, sent a letter to the Trump Administration on Friday calling for central coordination of the medical supply chain and comprehensive testing infrastructure.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

My Testing Story | Laura Deehan

A guest blog from my colleague, Lisa Frank, from our grants team, sharing her story of testing for coronavirus.

> Keep Reading
News Release | CoPIRG | COVID-19

CoPIRG Calls on Gov. Polis to keep stay-at-home order in place

CoPIRG is calling on Gov. Jared Polis to keep Colorado’s stay-at-home order in place beyond this weekend because the state is not meeting the guidelines laid out by public health experts, including the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials, around testing, tracking, and the number of new cases per day.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CoPIRG Foundation | COVID-19

26 Colorado legislators join Attorney General, demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

26 Colorado legislators are calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In total 346 legislators representing 45 states joined CoPIRG Foundation in sending a letter Tuesday urging Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis. Less than two weeks ago, 33 attorneys general, including Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, sent a similar letter to the same companies.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

43,000 call on ventilator manufacturers to release repair information

Today, U.S. PIRG delivered 43,000-plus signatures to ventilator manufacturers -- including GE Healthcare, Phillips, Siemens, Drager, Hamilton, Medtronic and more -- calling for the release of all necessary repair information. 

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

Price gouging on medical equipment risks lives, 100+ mayors call for action

A new investigation by ProPublica, along with reporting by numerous other outlets, has revealed that suppliers are using the COVID-19 public health emergency to drive up prices exorbitantly on medical equipment. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Here’s how to address bill payment challenges during COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left many Americans wondering how they’re going to pay their monthly bills. U.S. PIRG Education Fund new advice on how to negotiate with banks, utilities delaying payments, waiving of overdraft fees and other ways to stay financially secure.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | CoPIRG | Consumer Protection

Recommendations in Response to Equifax Breach

Equifax, one of the big three credit reporting agencies, announced on September 7th that it had been hacked, potentially compromising the data of 145 million Americans. The types of information taken from the massive credit bureau, particularly Social Security numbers and dates of birth, are the keys to new account identity theft. This means identity thieves could open fraudulent credit accounts and rack up tons of debt in your name. Here’s our recommendations for what you should do:

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2017

For over 30 years, CoPIRG Foundation has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to over 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children. Among the toys surveyed this year, we found potential choking hazards, and two products with concentrations of lead exceeding federal standards for children’s products. We also found data-collecting toys that may violate children’s privacy laws.

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

The State of Recycling in Colorado 2017

Colorado may have a green reputation, but when it comes to trash, the truth is that our state is one of the most wasteful in the nation. Colorado recycles only 12 percent of its waste, much less than the national average of 34 percent. 

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

Lead In Fidget Spinners

While lead in toys has become less prevalent in recent years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund tested several models of one of today’s hottest toys, fidget spinners, for the toxic heavy metal. Laboratory results indicated that two fidget spinners purchased at Target and distributed by Bulls i Toy, L.L.C. contained extremely high levels of lead. U.S. PIRG Education Fund calls on Target and Bulls i Toy to immediately recall these two fidget spinners and investigate how such high levels of lead were found in these toys. Also, we call on the U.S.

> Keep Reading
Report | CoPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Consumer Protection

Older Consumers in the Financial Marketplace

Older consumers are at risk of harm from predatory financial behavior. An analysis of more than 72,000 financial complaints submitted by older consumers (those 62 years of age and older) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB, or Consumer Bureau) and contained in its Consumer Complaint Database suggests that mistreatment of older consumers by financial companies is widespread. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | COVID-19

Comprehensive Testing Needed Now! | Laura Deehan

We are just weeks away from the United States’ expected COVID-19 peak, and as scores of state and local officials are making clear, rather than rollbacks, we need broader testing capacity with the federal government leading the effort. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Cordray To "Oblivious" CFPB: "Shield" Families From Economic Harms | Ed Mierzwinski

Rich Cordray, the first director of the CFPB and author of a new book on his six years at its helm, has issued a powerful memo to its current director, Kathy Kraninger, urging her to stop "relaxing" duties on financial firms and to "lose no further time" in "shield[ing] households and families" from the "economic harms" they face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

No, all 50 governors shouldn't try to buy ventilators on their own | Nathan Proctor

The federal government must show leadership, and coordinate hospital supplies such as masks and ventilators.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

My coronavirus testing story | Laura Deehan

How limitations in testing hurt our ability to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, a blog from Laura Deehan, CALPIRG Public Health Advocate.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Make Sure Everyone Who Needs a Test Gets a Test | Matt Wellington

Without adequate testing for the novel coronavirus, health professionals are in the dark. We are calling on Adm. Brett Giroir, who is the Assistant Secretary for Health and the federal point person for COVID-19 testing response, to immediately adopt and follow through on a plan to make sure that everyone who needs a test, gets a test. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Antibiotics, Food

It's time for Wendy's to get antibiotics off the menu

 

The fast food chain Wendy's has a role to play in preventing a future in which antibiotics no longer work to protect our health.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Food, Solid Waste

What a waste: At least 30% of trash could be composted instead of buried or burned

Each year, America landfills and incinerates enough organic material to fill a line of 18-wheelers stretching from New York to Los Angeles 10 times over.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Despite public support, polystyrene container ban falls short in Colorado Senate

The Colorado Senate missed its chance to put the state on a path to move beyond plastic.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Colorado unanimously votes to consider zero emission vehicle standard

Colorado is accelerating a little faster toward a future with more electric vehicles on the road.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste, Transportation

Before we spend $2 trillion, report recommends a 'Blueprint for Tomorrow'

For all of us who rely on our roads and public transit, and our water, sewage and power systems, the agreement reached by President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders in May to commit $2 trillion to infrastructure should be good news.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

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. 

Blog Post

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.

Report | CoPIRG

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.

News Release | CoPIRG

With America as a whole continuing to struggle in containing the COVID-19 virus, CoPIRG released a new fact sheet today calling on Colorado to maintain all current restrictions and consider implementing additional containment measures. 

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.

 

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.

 

Solid Waste

Two major plastics bills pass out of Colorado committee

Two vital bills to reduce plastic waste in Colorado have passed out of a state House committee. Combined, these bills would make Colorado a leader in tackling plastic pollution by banning polystyrene foam food containers, phasing out plastic shopping bags and instituting a straw-by-request policy at eateries. 

 

Solid Waste

U.S. PIRG, coalition partners urge Congress to reject plastics industry investment proposal

In a letter, U.S. PIRG, the Break Free From Plastic movement and a coalition of NGOs called on Congress to reject a plastics industry proposal to invest up to $1 billion in industry infrastructure and expressed strong support for federal legislation to slash plastic waste.

 
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.