Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics

What if antibiotics stopped working?

We assume that if we get an infection, our doctor can give us antibiotics to get better. But what if the antibiotic didn’t kill the infection? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the widespread overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is putting our health at risk—already, at least 35,000 Americans die every year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

We took the issue, outlined the problem, solution and a strategy to win, and created a campaign that can help move us in the right direction right now to save antibiotics.

As a result, PIRG has been calling on big restaurant chains to get them to stop sourcing meat raised with routine antibiotics, which will force the factory farms to stop the overuse of antibiotics.

Since the campaign launch, PIRG has used our messaging and materials to help convince McDonald’s to stop selling chicken raised with routine antibiotics important for human medicine, and make commitments to reduce antibiotics overuse in its beef supply. And Subway—the chain with the most restaurants in the country—to commit to serving meat raised without routine antibiotics.

This year, we got a new commitment from Wendy's to prohibit the routine use of medically-important antibiotics in its beef supplies by the end of 2030. It’s a major step forward for the third largest burger chain, and as long as the company implements that commitment its grade will continue to improve. Most other chains have no established policy restricting antibiotic use in their beef supply chains.

Next up: making sure these restaurants follow through on stopping antibiotic overuse, and market wide change.

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