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Steve Blackledge,
U.S. PIRG

Medical Professionals Call for Action to Save Antibiotics

For Immediate Release

Dear Major Restaurant Chain,

As doctors, nurses, and medical professionals, we are deeply concerned about the threat to public health caused by the widespread overuse of antibiotics.

Antibiotics are meant to be given in precise doses to treat specific types of infections. But as you know, many large-scale livestock and poultry farms routinely give antibiotics-typically through feed or water-to animals, even when they’re not sick. Roughly 70% of antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock and poultry, not humans, often on animals that aren’t even sick. This practice increases the likelihood that bacteria resistant to the drugs will grow and flourish, and our life-saving medicines won't work.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t stay put, they can spread off of farms and into communities via contaminated food products, or by water, soil, and air. A February 2014 study found that the patients in an Iowa VA residential hospital who had resided within 1 mile of large swine facilities were nearly twice as likely to have Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) colonization at time of admission than were patients not living in close proximity to large, confined animal feedlots.

In all, more than 2 million Americans get sick from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and 23,000 people die.

We stand to lose antibiotics as a critical tool to treat our patients and save lives.

Restaurants can force meat producers to stop the overuse of antibiotics. Chipotle, Chik-fil-A, Panera Bread, McDonalds on chicken, and now Subway have made commitments to serve meat raised without antibiotics.

We need even more restaurants to take action. Please commit to serving meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics. It will play an important role in making sure that our medicine chest isn’t empty when it comes to treating human infections.

Sincerely,
Health care professionals nationwide

 

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