RachelKolokoffHopper via Shutterstock.com

To stop the overuse of antibiotics, and save our life-saving medicines, we’re getting big farms and restaurants to do their part.

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.

Nearly 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for use on factory farms. We know we can get factory farms to stop misusing our life-saving medicines if their biggest customers commit to buying meat that’s been raised without routine antibiotics.

Over the past few years we’ve helped convince McDonald’s, Subway, KFC and others to commit to stop buying chicken raised on antibiotics important to human medicine. The result? In the near future, we estimate that nearly half the chicken in this country will be raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics. We’re talking billions of chickens each year.

If we want to save our antibiotics, we need to stop the overuse of these life-saving drugs by all large industrial farms. So we’re focused on getting the top restaurants in the country to stop buying any meat that’s been raised with the routine use of medically important antibiotics. After running a yearlong campaign with our partners, we helped convince McDonald’s, the largest beef buyer in the U.S., to commit to monitor and reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its global beef supply chain. That was a big deal, and should spark industry wide change, but it’s not over yet.

The beef industry purchases the most medically important antibiotics out of any meat sector. If more major burger chains, like Wendy’s and Burger King, commit to no longer purchase beef raised with our life-saving medicines, it can accelerate the change that McDonald’s started. And we don’t have time to waste.

Experts estimate that without swift action to reduce antibiotic use in human health care and agriculture, more people could die worldwide every year from drug-resistant infections by 2050 than cancer kills today.

Several of the more than 30,000 photo petitions and signatures we collected calling on McDonald’s to eliminate medically important antibiotics from their chicken supply chains.

The surest way to get more restaurants to take action is to demonstrate just how much support there is for change and how big of an impact this could have on this growing public health threat.

We know that people and the medical community are behind us. In a poll released by U.S. PIRG and Consumer Reports, 93 percent of doctors polled said they were concerned about the practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention. And 300,000 people have added their names in support for our call to stop the overuse of antibiotics.

Priority Action
More burger chains should follow McDonald's lead

McDonald's recently committed to monitor and reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its beef supply chain. If more burger chains follow McDonald's lead it can help accelerate industry-wide change to stop overusing life-saving medicines.

Organizing Medical Professionals

To make sure state leaders, corporate CEOs and public officials understand the grave public health consequences of antibiotic resistance, we created the Health Professional Action Network. Health professionals are on the front lines of this problem, seeing patients with infections that were once easily treatable turn into dangerous and sometimes deadly illnesses.

That’s why more than 50,000 of them have signed onto our efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics. We have a group of physicians and health experts who are trained and ready to be our voice in the media, in state capitols, and wherever we need to counter misleading claims or advocate for new solutions.