2014

Consumers Union Ad in San Francisco Chronicle Urges Trader Joe's To Help Curb A Major Public Health Crisis

Campaign Calls On Grocer To Stop Selling Meat Raised On Antibiotics

SAN FRANCISCO, May 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, called on Trader Joe's to help curb a major public health crisis today in a full page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle.  The ad calls on the national grocer to stop selling meat and poultry from animals raised on antibiotics, a practice that threatens public health by promoting the spread of drug resistant superbugs.

The full page ad is part of Consumers Union's Meat Without Drugs campaign, which aims to convince grocery stores -- starting with Trader Joe's -- to sell only meat raised without antibiotics.  

The ad, which also appeared in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, coincides with the launch of the campaign's outreach effort to customers at Trader Joe's stores in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland.  Consumers Union has conducted similar outreach at Trader Joe's stores in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon over the past month.  The effort has generated thousands of calls to Trader Joe's in support of the campaign.

"The public health threat posed by the overuse of antibiotics for meat production is real and growing," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union.  "Trader Joe's could make a big difference for public health by working with its meat suppliers to transition away from the reckless overuse of antibiotics on healthy livestock." 

Consumers Union has urged Congress and the FDA to take action to curtail antibiotic use in meat production, but these efforts have been blocked by the pharmaceutical and livestock industry interests for decades.  In the face of inaction in Washington, the Meat Without Drugs campaign is working to bring about change in the marketplace.  

Some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used not on humans but on livestock.  These antibiotics are fed to healthy animals like cows, pigs, and chickens to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in often crowded and unsanitary conditions on today's factory farms.  While public health campaigns are helping to curb the use of antibiotics in humans, antibiotic use on livestock is still increasing.    

When antibiotics are used on the farm, the bugs that are vulnerable to them tend to be killed off, leaving behind bacteria resistant to antibiotics.  Antibiotic resistant bacteria can spread from the farm to our communities via meat and poultry, farmworkers, and through the air, soil, and water.  As antibiotic resistance increases, the medications used to treat infections in people can become less effective. 

"The antibiotics we all depend on to fight off deadly infections are losing their power," said Halloran.  "We shouldn't waste these critical medications to make animals grow faster or to prevent disease.  Humans don't take antibiotics to prevent disease and neither should healthy farm animals."  

Over 650,000 consumers have signed petitions, postcards, and flyers in support of Consumers Union's campaign.  However, so far Trader Joe's has refused to change their practices or even meet with Consumers Union to discuss the issue.  Trader Joe's offers some chicken, turkey, and beef raised without antibiotics, but no pork.  While providing customers with some "no antibiotics" options is positive, continuing to sell conventional meat from animals raised on drugs contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

The effort to get Trader Joe's to stop selling meat raised without antibiotics comes at a time when other food companies are making this move and touting it in their advertisements.  Whole Foods only sells meat and poultry raised without antibiotics and recently emphasized that fact with its "Friends Don't' Let Friends Eat Meat on Drugs" ad campaign.  Similarly, Panera Bread has been highlighting that it only uses "no antibiotics" chicken in its dishes in television ads.  Chipotle also sells pork, chicken, and beef that is raised without antibiotics.   

"Trader Joe's has been an industry leader in offering affordable options for organic food and eggs from cage-free hens," said Halloran.  "It should use its leverage with suppliers to help move the livestock industry towards healthy animals raised without drugs."    

SOURCE Consumers Union



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