MADISON – Today WISPIRG Foundation staff and volunteers launched a new consumer campaign that will call on Culver’s, home to the regionally renowned Butterburger, to stop selling meat raised with the routine use of antibiotics. UW Professor Emerita Carol Spiegel and Sauk County farmer Jim Goodman spoke about the urgent need to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use on livestock, and about how doing so will help preserve these life-saving medicines for future generations.
“Wisconsinites are placing an order to Culver’s for a Butterburger raised without routine antibiotics,” said Claire Rater, WISPIRG Foundation Program Coordinator. “Doctors, responsible farmers, and consumers agree that it’s good for public health and good for the bottom-line.”
Up to 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on livestock and poultry. Most large industrial farms administer antibiotics to animals that often aren’t sick on a routine basis in order to promote growth and prevent disease brought on by unsanitary production practices. That overuse breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria that rapidly multiply and spread off of farms via direct human-to-animal contact, through the air, water, and soil, and through contaminated meat.
Major fast food chains can push their meat suppliers to change by committing to only purchase meat from farms that don’t abuse these life-saving medicines. Culver’s has committed to purchasing chicken raised without routine antibiotics, which is a big step in the right direction. A commitment to phase out all meat from farms that overuse antibiotics as well would set an example for the rest of the industry and help to protect public health.
“If antibiotics are eliminated from animal feed and used only by veterinarians to treat infected animals, we can help prevent development of additional resistance and hopefully regain the use of some current antibiotics,” said Dr. Spiegel, Professor of Microbiology Emerita in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Nearly every major public health expert, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the American Academy of Pediatrics, warns that if we don’t stop the overuse of antibiotics on animals that aren’t sick, the drugs might stop working altogether. Antibiotic-resistant infections kill 23,000 Americans, and sicken 2 million every year, according to the CDC.
“Culver’s has a major opportunity to protect public health by expanding its antibiotics commitment to all meat, and there’s no time to waste,” said Rater.
For more information, visit www.wispirgfoundation.org and follow @WISPIRG on Twitter and Facebook.
The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.