Doorbells and Antibiotics

By Steve Blackledge
Public Health Program Director

Earlier today, Wendy’s announced a commitment to serve chicken from farms that do not misuse antibiotics. Wendy’s says they will meet that pledge in 2017. 

That’s huge, and it isn’t just Wendy’s. Earlier this week, McDonald’s announced that they have hit their antibiotics commitment about 8 months early. McDonald’s, arguably the king of all fast-food chains, had previously committed to serving chicken raised without the use of medically-important antibiotics by March, 2017. 

Keep in mind, these two announcements come just this week. But by no means are they the only two in the food industry that have taken action. 

A few thoughts on this progress… 

One, hats off to these two companies and the many others, such as Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Shake Shack, Subway and more, who have taken action. They realize the severity of the problem — antibiotics are losing their effectiveness — and that this problem has life and death implications for all sorts of people. They realize the reckless use of antibiotics on large industrial farms is playing a role in the demise of antibiotics. And they realize that they can exert pressure on farms through their purchasing power. 

Two, kudos to all the groups that have joined us in some manner to urge and/or pressure these and other restaurant chains to take action. Off the top of my head (meaning that I’m bound to miss someone), groups like NRDC, Pew, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, As You Sow, and others have been involved. 

Three, I want to give a special thank you to all of the people here at U.S. PIRG who have done some of the hardest but most important work — going door to door in communities across this country, ringing doorbells and talking to people about the misuse of antibiotics and the need for restaurants like Wendy’s to step up. People like Mark Katronetsky in New Jersey, Annie Gibbons and Kat Lockwood in Oregon, Ruth Rothstein in California, Dyani Chapman in New Mexico, and many more. Thank you for your hard work and helping to bring about this success! 

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