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Noodles and Company, a Broomfield-based fast-casual food chain, announced a new policy that will phase out the use of antibiotics in their bacon, steak and meatball products by late 2016 and phase out antibiotics in chicken products by 2017. They have already phased out antibiotics in their pork. The announcement was hailed by CoPIRG as an important step in tackling the rise of antibiotic resistant “superbugs” and saving the effectiveness of human antibiotics.
“We applaud Noodles and Company for being a leader in protecting public health by committing to serve meat raised without antibiotics,” said Kate Cohen, CoPIRG’s Save Antibiotics Campaign Organizer. “Overusing antibiotics on factory farms fuels the rise of antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs,’ which undermines the effectiveness of life-saving antibiotics.”
Due to misuse and overuse, leading medical experts including the World Health Organization warn that antibiotics could stop working soon – with grave consequences for public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year at least two million Americans become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections.
“Antibiotic resistance is a problem, from the community to the hospital, and anytime a company can reduce its antibiotic use, hopefully we can reduce antibiotic resistance. The more companies that do this, the more it will help pave the way for decreased resistance,” said Denver-based pediatrician Dudley Hammon.
Despite this threat to public health, up to 70 percent of medically-important antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock and poultry. Many large industrial farms routinely give antibiotics to animals that are not sick in order speed up growth and to prevent disease brought on by poor diets and stressful, crowded and often unsanitary confinement conditions.
Restaurants can play a big role in helping to push large industrial farms to reduce antibiotic usage. Noodles and Company is joining the ranks of Colorado based chains, like Chipotle, Good Times, and Illegal Pete's, that are leading the way in protecting public health by making strong commitments to sell meats raised without routine antibiotics. Other restaurants have also already taken this step.
Last March, McDonald’s announced that they would phase out medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply within two years. It’s no coincidence that the following April, Tyson Foods, a major supplier of McDonald’s, announced a plan to eliminate antibiotics in its chicken production.
In June, CoPIRG launched an effort to get Subway, with more restaurants in the U.S. than any other chain, to commit to serve meat raised without routine antibiotics (i.e. for growth promotion and disease prevention). As the largest fast-food chain in the world, Subway’s action on this issue would force the meat industry to stop the overuse of antibiotics.
“With more than 23,000 Americans dying each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, Noodles and Company’s actions help move the industry away from antibiotic overuse,” said Cohen. “Now it’s time for other major chains like Subway to phase out antibiotic use and protect public health.”
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