Consumer Group, Activists Hold ‘Thank You’ Events in Front of Subway

Chain Announced Plan to Help Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics


Boston On October 20th Subway announced that it is making the shift to serving meat raised without antibiotics. The sandwich giant will serve only antibiotic free chicken by the end of 2016, with a shift on turkey by 2019, and pork and beef completed by 2025. The decision came in anticipation of a petition delivery to headquarters of more than 270,000 petition signatures by MASSPIRG staff and other advocacy groups.

Instead of delivering a petition calling for action, MASSPPIRG staff and local activists organized events across the country to thank Subway for taking a major step toward protecting our life-saving antibiotics.

 “We’re ecstatic that Subway will be living up to the healthy image they’ve created. They have more restaurants in the U.S. than any other chain, and their announcement will put major market pressure on the meat producers to stop overusing antibiotics” said MASSPIRG campaign organizer David Melly.

Antibiotic resistant superbugs kill 23,000 Americans each year, and sicken millions more.

Doctors rely on antibiotics to save lives, but 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are sold for use on food animals, often ones that aren’t sick, typically to promote growth or prevent disease common in unsanitary conditions. Major public health organizations are calling for the meat industry to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms, a practice the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe”.

Some restaurants that buy from these farms are responding to consumer concerns by refusing to purchase meat raised on antibiotics. And it’s not just a fad. Major players in the meat industry are already making the shift:

  • Chipotle, Panera Bread, Chik-fil-A, Noodles & Co, and Elevation Burger have made commitments to serve meat raised without antibiotics.
  • Major chicken producers like Perdue, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Foster Farms have either eliminated routine antibiotics in chicken production or are on the way there.
  • McDonald’s committed to stop serving chicken raised on medically-important antibiotics and Tyson Foods, their major supplier, followed suit.
  • Now Subway, with more restaurants in the U.S. than any other chain, has committed to meat raised without antibiotics.

“People care about how the food they eat affects public health, and I know I’m more inclined to eat a foot long now that Subway is helping to save antibiotics,” said local activist Kate Gehling. “We’re hopeful that Subway’s decision will force an industry-wide shift away from abusing antibiotics in factory farms.”

The grassroots campaign to convince Subway to make a commitment on antibiotics included the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, and the Food Babe.


MASSPIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we counteract the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.