Demand Labeling to Prevent Superbug Crisis

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on July 14, 2014

Did you know that nearly 80% of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. go to animals on factory farms before they’re even sick? Crowding and filth in factory farms creates conditions where animals need medicine to keep them alive before slaughter. This mass usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture means antibiotic resistant “superbugs”—bacteria that can’t be killed by our common medicines. These superbugs could be the number one public health crisis facing us today.

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Consumers who eat (and feed their children) meat and poultry have no way of knowing if it comes from an animal who was given pre-emptive antibiotics, and that’s why ALDF is demanding the government place labels on meat products. Consumers have a right to make informed decisions—and animals have rights to live in conditions that don’t require mass doses of medicine simply to survive. A Change.org petition to require labeling on meat from animals fed antibiotics is approaching 150,000 signatures—help it get there by signing here. This petition supports ALDF’s request to the USDA to protect the public from a “superbug” crisis from factory farms by labeling meat and poultry.

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Tightly packed spaces and unsanitary conditions on factory farms mean mass usage of antibiotics. Intensive confinement like this weakens immune systems and causes immense physiological stress. Instead of making conditions better, producers give drugs to animals to prevent the outbreak of disease and to speed an animal’s hormonal growth to “slaughter weight” more cheaply by using less food. That meat may end up in school lunches or family suppers. Studies show that antibiotic-resistant epidemics of E. coli and salmonella may start from just this origin. Yet the ag industry isn’t required to disclose its use of antibiotics to consumers!

Labeling is how consumers understand what they are purchasing and feeding their families. Food safety information helps consumers make better choices, and it’s up to the USDA to empower us with the ability to make these decisions. Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation, explains:

Millions of animals are being harmed and consumers misled by this failure to accurately label food products—and this is a matter critical to public and animal health.

Write or call your Congressional representative and ask them to support ALDF’s petition by urging the USDA to protect the public with clear food labels.