Trader Joe’s urged to end sale of meat raised on antibiotics with opening of new Syracuse store

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Consumers Union Ad Urges Trader Joe’s to Help Curb a Major Public Health Crisis

Campaign Calls On Grocer To Stop Selling Meat Raised On Antibiotics

SYRACUSE, NY – In a full page ad appearing in the Post-Standard, Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, called on Trader Joe’s today to stop selling meat from animals raised on antibiotics. The ad highlights how the overuse of antibiotics by the meat industry on healthy livestock threatens public health by making these medications less effective for treating disease.

“The antibiotics we depend on to treat infectious diseases are losing their power,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union. “We need to stop wasting these critical medications on healthy livestock. Trader Joe’s can take an important stand for public health by no longer selling meat from animals that have been routinely fed antibiotics.”

Trader Joe’s will be opening its first Syracuse-area store in Dewitt on October 3.  Over three-quarters of a million consumers across the country have joined the campaign by calling on Trader Joe’s to be an industry leader on this critical public health issue.

Syracuse, New York resident Claire Angier has posted a petition on Change.org that calls

on Trader Joe’s to stop selling meat from animals raised on antibiotics. “As a mom, I know how important it is to use antibiotics wisely,” said Angier. “We shouldn’t waste these critical medicines on farm animals that aren’t sick. Trader Joe’s customers are counting on the grocer to say no to meat from animals raised on antibiotics.”

Consumers Union is opposed to the routine feeding of antibiotics to healthy livestock and has supported legislation to prohibit antibiotic use except when animals are sick. The consumer group has urged Congress and the FDA to take action to curtail the overuse of antibiotics in meat production, but meaningful efforts have been stymied by the pharmaceutical and livestock industries for decades.

Some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used not on humans but on animals. These antibiotics are fed mostly 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 industrial farms. While public health campaigns have helped to curb the use of antibiotics in humans, antibiotic use in 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 “superbugs” 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 become less effective.

Consumers Union is targeting Trader Joe’s because eighty percent of its products are private label, which means it has more control over its suppliers and can use that leverage to increase supply and keep prices competitive. A Consumer Reports investigation found that Trader Joe’s already sells some beef and much of its chicken raised without antibiotics (although no pork), and a recent survey of stores nationwide indicates that the grocer has slowly started carrying store-brand ground turkey raised without antibiotics.

In recent years, the grocer has made a commitment to other sustainable purchasing practices, such as only carrying eggs from cage-free hens and sourcing its private label products with non-genetically modified ingredients.

“Trader Joe’s is in an excellent position to be a real industry leader on this issue,” said Halloran. “It could make a big difference by sourcing its meat from suppliers who don’t rely on antibiotics to keep animals healthy in crowded and unsanitary conditions.”

The effort to get Trader Joe’s to stop selling meat raised on antibiotics comes at a time when other food companies are taking this stand. In February, Chick-fil-A announced that, within five years, it will no longer sell chicken that has been raised on antibiotics. Other national chains like Whole Foods, Chipotle, and Panera Bread have already made a commitment to selling no-antibiotic meat.

Contact: Michael McCauley, mmccauley at consumer.org, 415-902-9537 (cell)

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