Letter Calling on In-N-Out Burger to Fulfill Promise to Reduce Antibiotics Use in Beef


May 25, 2017
President Lynsi Snyder
In-N-Out Burgers
13502 Hamburger Lane
Baldwin Park, CA 91706

Dear Ms. Snyder,

We write you as a coalition representing millions of supporters to request a clear update and timeline for meeting In-N-Out’s goals related to its March 2016 commitment to source beef raised without antibiotics important to human medicine and to push suppliers “to accelerate their progress toward establishing antibiotic alternatives.” Since the announcement, federal initiatives have taken steps toward eliminating one routine use of medically important antibiotics in livestock: growth promotion. But routine uses in healthy animals for disease prevention purposes remain allowed under national standards. In-N-Out can make a significant impact by eliminating all routine uses of medically important antibiotics by its beef suppliers in a timely manner.

Achieving measurable reductions in the use of antibiotics in beef production is critical to address the public health crisis caused by bacteria resistant to important human medicines. It is conservatively estimated that two million people contract antibiotic-resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result each year in the United States. While overuse of antibiotics in human medicine is a significant contributing factor, health experts agree that administering low doses of antibiotics to animals that are not sick increases the risk of resistant infections in humans.

Consumers are demanding meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics, hormones and other drugs used in industrial meat production out of concern for public health, animal welfare and the environment. They are also paying close attention to whether companies make real progress in sourcing meat raised without routine antibiotics. They are also looking for healthier, more humane and sustainable meat. According to a recent Mintel study, 43% of consumers want more grass-fed burgers on restaurant menus and 43% of consumers want more grassfed meat on the menu.

As a significant purchaser of meat, In-N-Out’s widely covered public commitment to tackle the misuse of antibiotics led many of its customers to believe that the company is taking an important step toward preserving antibiotic medicines. The announcement also gave the company a significant public relations boost. Now, more than a year later, our groups are disappointed with the lack of apparent progress on In-N-Out’s promise.

We call on In-N-Out to make progress towards antibiotic stewardship by:

  • Providing a public update on the company’s efforts to date to source beef raised without routine use of medically important antibiotics, including posting In-N-Out’s antibiotics policy on the company website.
  • Defining a time-bound action plan, with significant benchmarks within the next two years, to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention across all of the company’s meat supply chains. Antibiotics should be available to treat animals diagnosed with an illness by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Identifying alternative suppliers if the company’s current suppliers are unable to transition their production to eliminate routine uses of medically important antibiotics in healthy animals.
  • Making immediate progress on the company’s 2016 commitment by offering a domestically produced grass-fed and/or organic beef item in its restaurants. Sourcing from well-managed grass-fed livestock operations that raise meat without antibiotics or other growth promoting drugs is another way to address the antibiotics crisis while providing healthful, more sustainable and humane options to your company’s customers.

In-N-Out should also play a role in encouraging better management practices on farms. Reduced crowding, more hygienic conditions, improved diets and longer weaning periods, among other changes, can improve animal welfare and minimize the need for prophylactic drugs on farms. In-N-Out’s leadership can encourage high standards of animal health and welfare from its suppliers, and contribute to the phase out of antibiotics and other animal drugs, including hormones and beta-agonists, for purposes other than the treatment of sick animals or to control an identified disease outbreak.

California’s new law to limit the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock operations goes into effect January 1, 2018. This law prohibits the regular use of antibiotics important to human medicine for disease prevention purposes and will undoubtedly increase the local supply of beef raised without these drugs. We believe now is the time for In-N-Out to make good on its promise.

With 70% of medically-important antibiotics in the U.S. sold for livestock use, we can’t fix the problem of antibiotic resistance unless the livestock sector and large meat buyers like In-N-Out are part of the solution.

We appreciate your attention to our concerns.


  1. Jason Pfeifle, Public Health Advocate, CALPIRG Education Fund
  2. Kari Hamerschlag, Senior Program Manager, Friends of the Earth
  3. Vani Hari, Author and Activist, FoodBabe.com
  4. Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety
  5. Buffalo Bruce, Staff Ecologist, Western Nebraska Resources Council
  6. Laura Rogers, Managing Director, Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University
  7. Michael Dimock, President, Roots of Change
  8. Joann Lo, Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance
  9. Maria Powell, President, Midwest Environmental Justice Organization
  10. Michael Jacobson, President, Center for Science in the Public Interest
  11. Steven Roach, Food Safety Program Director, Food Animal Concerns Trust
  12. Elizabeth Henderson, Farmer, Peacework
  13. Adam Scow, California Director, Food & Water Watch
  14. Jonathan Kaplan, Director, Food and Agriculture Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
  15. Bill Allayaud, California Director of Government Affairs, Environmental Working Group
  16. Bob Martin, Food System Policy Program Director, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
  17. Will Fantle, Co-Director, The Cornucopia Institute
  18. Dave Henson, Executive Director, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
  19. Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives, Consumers Union
  20. Charlie Fisher, State Director, OSPIRG
  21. Mimi Brody, Director of Federal Affairs, Humane Society Legislative Fund
  22. Diane Brown, Executive Director, Arizona PIRG
  23. Patricia Buck, Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention
  24. Robert Gould, MD, President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
  25. Nadira Narine, Senior Program Director, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
  26. Susan Vickers, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Dignity Health
  27. Lisa Simon, Unitarian Universalist Congregation Shelter Rock
  28. Dave Murphy, Executive Director, Food Democracy Now
  29. Michael Green, CEO, Center for Environmental Health
  30. Matt Wellington, Antibiotics Program Director, U.S. PIRG
  31. Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Director, Center for Biological Diversity
  32. Madison Monty, Policy Advisor, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
  33. Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive Officer, ShareAction