Americans Want Government Intervention in Stopping Superbugs

National Survey Shows Majority of Americans Concerned about Antibiotic Overuse in Animal Agriculture and Four out of Five Parents Surveyed Want Action Now

Dec 12, 2011, 08:00 ET from Applegate


BRIDGEWATER, N.J., Dec. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As millions of families select holiday turkeys and hams for their dinner tables, a new survey finds 75 percent of Americans want government to do something to restrict the use of antibiotics in the animal farms that produce those turkeys, hams and other meats, and 71 percent believe that antibiotic overuse and misuse is causing antibiotic resistance and a human health crisis.

And those numbers increase when survey numbers focus solely on parents, with 79 percent of parents favoring government restrictions on antibiotic use in animal agriculture and 79 percent believing the misuse is causing a health crisis.

"As a parent and the owner of a business that deals daily with animal agriculture, I want antibiotics to keep working for all of us – humans and animals," said Stephen McDonnell, CEO and founder of Applegate, the leading producer of natural and organic meats and cheeses.  Applegate commissioned the survey as part of an effort called Citizens Against Superbugs, a grassroots campaign in partnership with the non-profit group STOP Foodborne Illness. 

According to McDonnell, the Food and Drug Administration reported earlier this year that 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States go to animals used for food – and much of it to healthy animals.  "When people hear that number, they know in their gut that it's not right," says McDonnell, who will be presenting information about antibiotic-free animal agriculture at a congressional briefing hosted by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) on Tuesday, Dec. 13. 

McDonnell is asking consumers to become part of the conversation, view videos about antibiotic resistance and sign a petition on Facebook, The petition urges President Barack Obama, who pledged to curb the overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms to stem the emergence of deadly superbugs in his 2008 campaign, to enact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's guidance 209, which would restrict the use of antibiotics on healthy animals. Citizens Against Superbugs is placing a full-page advertisement about the issue in Politico to coincide with McDonnell's Washington, DC presentation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified before Congress in 2010 and stated there was a definitive link between the routine use of antibiotics when raising animals for food and the crisis of antibiotic resistance in humans.

"The time to save medicine's first miracle drug is now," said McDonnell. "Treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is increasing health care costs by up to $26 billion a year. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is killing more Americans than AIDS, and recently a strain of this bacteria has emerged that infects humans and has been associated with antibiotics given to animals raised for food."

More Survey Findings – Consumers Feel Misled; Willing to Pay More for Antibiotic Free Meat

In the United States, meat that is produced from animals administered antibiotics can be labeled "natural," however, the survey found that seven in 10 parents find the practice misleading. And nearly eight in 10 parents favor a change in regulations that would prevent companies from labeling meat and poultry sourced from animals treated with antibiotics, as "natural."

  • Seven in 10 parents agreed that government restrictions on antibiotic use in animal agriculture are worth paying more for meat and poultry.
  • Nearly nine in 10 parents have heard something about industrial farming and the routine use of antibiotics in the production of livestock for meat and poultry, with more than one in five having heard or read a lot about these issues.
  • Three quarters of parents agree that the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture can lead to antibiotic resistance transferring from animals to humans.
  • Parents strongly favor regulations that would limit the use of antibiotics for treating sick animals, and eliminating the use of antibiotics to compensate for the effects of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions on industrial farms.

About the Survey

The survey was administered online by Toluna, one the world's leading online panel and survey technology providers, with a total sample of 2,211 men and women aged 18 years or older. From this overall sample, 573 parents with children under 18 living at home, who are registered voters, and are primary grocery shoppers were identified and screened. Research was conducted in October 2011. The margin for error on this subsample of parents is +/- 3.4%. The survey was sponsored by Applegate.

About Applegate

For more than 20 years, Applegate has been producing high-quality natural and organic hot dogs, bacon, sausages, deli meats, cheese and frozen products. Natural can mean many things, but when Applegate says their products are natural, consumers are guaranteed that the meat inside is:

  • Raised without antibiotics or hormones
  • From animals fed a vegetarian or 100% grass diet and treated with humane animal standards
  • Free of added chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates
  • Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives

For more information about our products, visit

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Stephen McDonnell

SOURCE Applegate