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 MASSPIRG 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

MASSPIRG 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 misuing 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 | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Consumer Groups: CarMax Endangers Lives in Massachusetts

CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, is endangering lives in Massachusetts by selling recalled vehicles with potentially lethal safety defects. According to a report released today by the MASSPIRG Education Fund and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation, research conducted on October 28, 2015, found that over 17 percent of cars offered for sale at the CarMax North Attleboro dealership – 42 out of 243  – were subject to a federal safety recall that had not been repaired, despite the fact that repairs for many of these safety defects were readily available – at no cost to CarMax. While some of the recalls may involve delays due to parts shortages or temporary non-availability of a remedy, CarMax could have simply waited until the repair was provided by the manufacturer before offering the cars for sale.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

CarMax Endangers Lives in Massachusetts

CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, is selling recalled vehicles with dangerous and potentially lethal safety defects to Massachusetts car buyers. Those unsafe vehicles are hazardous not only to the people who buy them, but to the cars’ passengers and everyone else who shares the roads and adjacent areas, including sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Transportation

Pulling a FAST one on our Transportation Future | Sean Doyle

For the first time in a decade, and after roughly three dozen short-term extensions, Congress has pulled together and passed a transportation-funding law lasting longer than two years. There is only one problem: the new law is the wrong deal for the country.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

House Committee Launches Trojan Horse Assault On State Privacy Laws | Ed Mierzwinski

This afternoon (Tuesday, 8 December), the U.S. House Financial Services Committee launches a massive attack on state privacy laws. Hidden inside a seemingly modest proposal to establish federal data breach notice requirements is a Trojan Horse provision designed to to take state consumer cops off the privacy beat, completely and forever. That's wrong, because the states have always been key first responders and leaders on privacy threats that Congress has ignored, from credit report accuracy and identity theft to data breaches and do-not-call lists.

> Keep Reading
Report | For Immediate Release | Tax

SETTLING FOR A LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY?

> Keep Reading

Pages

Consumer group draws attention to dangerous toys

MASSPIRG Education Fund displays dangerous toys while releasing 28th anual report "Trouble in Toyland". 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America's store shelves. The 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report shows that despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Consumer Protection

In Massachusetts Experian Gets Most Complaints

New report found that the most complained-about credit reporting agency in Massachusetts is Experian. 

 

The report used data collected by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database, which was created to help consumers resolve problems with their credit reports. The report compared complaints against the three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), commonly referred to as credit bureaus, who were together responsible for 96% of all complaints about credit reporting.

> Keep Reading

Pass GMO labeling bill in state

Big Ag spending undermines consumer-right-to-know.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Budget, Tax

JPMorgan should get no tax deduction in settlement deal

Taxpayers should not pay for corporate wrong doing.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony In Support of An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Prescription Fair Pricing Program | Deirdre Cummings

Current estimates put the Commonwealth’s spending at $1.2 billion per year on prescription drugs. The results of these growing prescription drug costs are more people without access to necessary drugs, higher premiums for those fortunate enough to have prescription drug coverage, and an increasing burden on the state and other programs to assist those who cannot pay for drugs themselves

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Testimony in support of maintaining the current Food Store Item Pricing Law | Deirdre Cummings

The food store item pricing law requires supermarkets to put price stickers on most items in supermarkets. It is a long-standing, efficacious, and overwhelmingly popular consumer protection. MASSPIRG does not oppose stores adopting newer pricing technology such as electronic shelf display systems and self service price scanners with certain controls. However, we do oppose legislation that would allow stores to substitute a pricing mechanism that offers less consumer benefit than what we have today. In considering any change to our current retail pricing system, it must first provide equal or better benefits to the consumer to be considered as a substitute. The six proposals before you today do not provide equal or improved consumer benefits.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Testimony in Support of Closing the Telecom Tax Loophole | Deirdre Cummings

This hearing comes just days before the deadline to file our taxes, and each year at about this time, Bay Staters have an opportunity to reflect about taxes and how our tax dollars get spent. Some may use the occasion to complain about their taxes or government, others may object that public structures like schools, roads, and health inspections need more public funds than they receive. Whatever your perspective, Tax Day and our tax bills are far more palatable when we feel confident in the tax system; that there is inherent fairness in the system; and no one group or individual gets unintended or unreasonable tax breaks.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

MASSPIRG Urges Senate To Oppose Anti-Consumer Bill | Deirdre Cummings

This bill would turn back the clock on consumer protection over a quarter of a century by once again requiring an out-of-pocket loss of money in order for a consumer to collect damages under the state Consumer Protection Act, Chapter 93A. It would also eliminate consumers’ rights to join together to fight unfair practices.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

MASSPIRG urges the Division of Insurance to reduce annual auto insurance premiums | Deirdre Cummings

The Division of Insurance should use their authority and resources to Identify and adopt a comprehensive plan to reduce the state's underlying costs, including our high accident rate. The reforms to reduce the state's costs and accident rate must involve state and local government, the insurance industry, police, drivers and insurance regulators.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your donation supports MASSPIRG'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