Stop The Overuse Of Antibiotics

Panera Bread backs off of no antibiotics policy

Antibiotic resistance kills at least 35,000 Americans a year. That’s why Panera’s decision to allow routine use of some antibiotics is so disappointing.

Person holding sign reading

Once a leader, Panera retreats on antibiotics in meat supply

Antibiotic resistant infections kill at least 700,000 people globally and 35,000 Americans each year. Resistance is driven by the overuse of antibiotics, and the vast majority are NOT used on humans, but in animal agriculture. That is why Panera Bread’s recent decision to allow routine use of some antibiotics that are not critical to human medicine is so disappointing and concerning. Panera was a leader among the top 20 restaurant chains in eliminating the routine use of antibiotics – earning an “A-”, second only to Chipotle, in our latest Chain Reaction scorecard – but this new policy is a step in the wrong direction.

Compensating for unsanitary conditions

Routine use of antibiotics (typically by dosing the animals’ water or food with antibiotics) is often used to compensate for raising the animals in poor, unsanitary conditions. But we know that it is not necessary to raise animals this way. For example, the New York Times recently profiled the Danish pork industry – one of the largest in the world – which has dramatically reduced the use of antibiotics, primarily through simple improvements in the living conditions of the animals.

Wasting a cornerstone of medicine

Panera also says that the additional cost of pork raised without routine antibiotics is driving the change, but that is the weakest reason of all to allow the overuse of antibiotics. Internal Panera memos, as reported by Reuters, say that the additional cost of pork raised without antibiotics would be $21 million, but for a company that did $6.34 billion in sales in 2022, that is a pittance – just 0.003%  It is truly absurd to risk ruining a cornerstone of modern medicine for the sake of marginal cost savings.

Panera can do better

We hope to convince Panera that this change in policy is a mistake, and nearly 10,000 PIRG members have already signed a petition to Panera urging them to restore their no antibiotics policy. We know that pork can be raised without antibiotics. As long as major purchasers, like Panera, demand the product, we know that producers will respond.

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