The Post-Antibiotic Era
Antibiotics are a cornerstone of modern medicine. For over a century doctors have prescribed antibiotics to treat everything from common illnesses, like an ear-infections, to more serious ones like the flu or a post-surgery infection.
Unfortunately, we are at risk of entering the post-antibiotic era where the rise of antibiotic resistant infections, or “superbugs” can cause infections that modern medicine can no longer cure.
The overuse of antibiotics breeds these superbug diseases. Low dosages of modern medicine allows bacteria to build a resistance to medicine. Health professionals, including those at the World Health Organization, warn that if we don’t stop the overuse of antibiotics we face potentially grave consequences for public health.
Antibiotic Overuse On Factory Farms
Despite this risk to public health – 70% of all antibiotics sold in the US go to factory farms where they’re given to animals that often are not even sick. Certainly crowded and unsanitary conditions, along with other factory farm practices, put the health of animals at risk. Instead of treating sick animals with antibiotics as they get an infection, many farms distribute medicine as a preventative measure, and as a tool to have animals gain weight faster.
We are pushing for change by getting the big chain restaurants that buy from factory farms to call for change. As millennials have huge purchasing power in today’s economy, we can use our dollars to call for change from our favorite restaurants.
Our Strategy is Working!
In the spring of 2015, we helped convince McDonald's to commit to purchasing chicken raised without the overuse of antibiotics. Last fall, we won our campaign for Subway to make a similar commitment for all kinds of meat served in their restaurants, and they debuted their first “antibiotic-free” sandwich this past winter. And just this April, KFC announced they'll stop selling chicken raised on medically important antibiotics as well! Now it's time to move the marketplace: who will be next to save antibiotics?
We need other major chains, such as Wawa, Applebee’s, Wendy’s, Olive Garden, and more, to stop serving meat that has been raised on antibiotics. As more chains do this, it will put additional market pressure on factory farms to stop overusing antibiotics. Already, Tyson Foods and Cargill have announced plans to stop the overuse of antibiotics on their farms. We need to keep this momentum going.