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“Antibiotics Off the Menu” coalition delivers over 125,000 petition signatures calling on Wendy’s to source responsibly raised beef
NEW YORK -- This week public health advocates from U.S. PIRG and the Antibiotics off the Menu coalition delivered petitions signed by more than 125,000 people calling on Wendy’s to stop the routine use of medically important antibiotics in its beef supply chain.
Wendy’s is one of the largest burger chains in the country. By committing to a concrete timeline for serving only beef raised without the routine use of all medically important antibiotics at its stores nationwide, the company can help ensure that these drugs will continue to effectively treat -- and even save the lives of -- sick people.
“One of the top threats to our health today is the misuse of antibiotics, and with it, the rise of deadly superbugs. We need to act now before the bacteria become widely immune to even our last-resort antibiotics,” said U.S. PIRG’s Hold the Antibiotics, Wendy’s Campaign Associate Curtis Morris. “By making a time-bound commitment to source only beef raised without routine antibiotic use, Wendy’s will not only do right by its customers, but will win the gratitude of the medical community for helping preserve life-saving medicines.”
Two-thirds of the medically important antibiotics sold in this country are for use on food animals, not people. The overuse of medically important antibiotics on farms contributes to alarming rates of drug-resistant bacteria — also known as "superbugs" — that are reducing the effectiveness of precious human medicines and making once-common infections in people harder to treat and sometimes lethal. A recent estimate by infectious disease experts indicates that resistant bacteria claim approximately 160,000 American lives every year.
“American consumers are increasingly demanding better meat, and Wendy’s half-hearted efforts on antibiotics won’t cut it,” said Lena Brook, Food Campaigns Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Wendy’s prides itself on fresh beef, but here is an even fresher idea: beef raised without overuse of these life-saving drugs.”
"Our federal government is not working at a pace equal to the crisis we are facing from antibiotic resistance, so we need leadership from the food sector to bring about real reforms on industrial farms." said Dr. Lance B. Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at the George Washington University.
Several of Wendy’s top competitors including global giant McDonalds and new generation favorites Shake Shack and Burger-Fi have either taken significant action to reduce antibiotic use, or have a plan in place to do so. Wendy’s, on the other hand, has only taken very minor steps forward in its beef supply chain, and has not made a meaningful commitment to push its suppliers away from overusing antibiotics.
“Wendy’s chicken is raised without medically important antibiotics, but it’s a very different story when it comes to beef,” said Meg Bohne, Associate Director of Campaigns at Consumer Reports. “Wendy’s continues to rely on beef suppliers that waste these life-saving medications on cows that are not sick. By adopting a more responsible antibiotics policy for beef, Wendy’s could help encourage the entire industry to end the misuse of these critically important drugs.”
“Much antibiotic use in the beef industry is the result of unhealthy choices by cattle feeders,” said Steve Roach, Food Safety Program Director at Food Animal Concerns Trust, “they feed inappropriate high energy diets and fail to prepare calves for the transition from pasture to feedlot. Wendy’s can help change this by demanding it’s suppliers use healthy practices not drugs to prevent disease.”
The Antibiotics Off the Menu coalition, a group of health, food, and environmental organizations, has been calling on Wendy’s to reduce antibiotic use in its beef supply chain since March 2019.
U.S. PIRG is the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stand up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.
The Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) was created to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by engaging in research, advocacy, and science-based policy. ARAC is comprised of epidemiologists, microbiologists, communications and policy experts focused on finding out-of-the box solutions to combat antibiotic resistance. ARAC is part of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace.
Food Animal Concerns Trust expands safe and humanely raised food options by supporting humane farmers and advocating against antibiotic overuse and harmful drugs in farm animals. Our Humane Farming Program invests in family farmers seeking to raise their animals humanely by providing them with grants, scholarships, and webinars. Our Food Safety Program advocates for stronger corporate and federal policies that eliminate the overuse of antibiotics and veterinary drugs known to be harmful to consumers. Together they expand safe and humane practices on farms across the country.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
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