New Video Series: Physicians Call for the Meat Industry to Stop Misusing Antibiotics

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Physicians are sounding the alarm about antibiotic resistance in the new video series from the Health Professional Action Network, a project of U.S. PIRG Education Fund. Overusing antibiotics to produce meat breeds drug resistant bacteria, which can travel off the farm and infect people with potentially-deadly illnesses. The launch of the first video coincides with the July 4th holiday, the day of the year when Americans grill the most.

“When you’ve seen a loved one or a friend suffer from one of these infections, it brings it home,” says Dr. Brad Spellberg, a California-based infectious disease physician, in the first video. He describes the common meat industry practice of routinely administering antibiotics to healthy animals to prevent infection as a “gross misuse of antibiotics.”

“We don’t prevent infections in people with antibiotics. Why would it be acceptable to prevent them in healthy animals,” asks Spellberg.

The World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists all have called for an end to the routine use of antibiotics on healthy animals due to the risks posed to human health.

The Environmental Working Group released a study last week that found “superbugs,” bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, on three-fourths of supermarket meat. An earlier study from Consumer Reports found that in most cases, meat raised without antibiotics harbors less antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“You shouldn’t have to worry about superbugs when you’re enjoying a barbecue,” said Matthew Wellington, Antibiotics Program Director U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “You should not only practice firework safety for the Fourth, but food safety as well. A great place to start is purchasing meat raised without routine antibiotic use.”

The video series will feature several installments from physicians across the country who have had experience treating patients with drug-resistant infections. The goals are to educate consumers and elected officials about the role that the food system plays in spreading antibiotic- resistant bacteria, and spark action to reduce antibiotic use in agriculture.