Stop The Overuse Of Antibiotics on Factory Farms

A GROWING THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 23,000 people die every year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and warns that the widespread overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is putting our health at risk.

WHAT IF ANTIBIOTICS STOPPED WORKING?

If you are like most Americans, you or someone in your family has been prescribed antibiotics to treat an illness. Maybe it was a simple ear infection, or strep throat. Or maybe it was something potentially life-threatening, like pneumonia or a post-surgery infection.  

We assume that when we get an infectious illness the antibiotics our doctors prescribe for us will make us better. But what if they didn’t? Medical experts, including from the World Health Organization, are warning that if we don’t stop the overuse of antibiotics, they could stop working — with potentially grave consequences for public health. 

ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE ON FACTORY FARMS

Despite these warnings, many factory farms are giving antibiotics to healthy livestock on a routine basis. Why? Crowded and unsanitary conditions, along with other practices used on factory farms can put animals’ health at risk. 

But, instead of treating sick animals with antibiotics when they get an infection, many farming operations just distribute antibiotics to all of their animals as a preventative measure. Factory farms also discovered that giving animals a regular dose of antibiotics made them gain weight faster. And now, approximately 70% of all medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in livestock and poultry

Antibiotics are meant to be given in precise doses to treat specific types of infections. When they are used on a routine, or regular basis by farming operations, it increases the likelihood that bacteria resistant to the antibiotics will grow and spread, and our life-saving medicines won't work.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections." And a recent study estimated that unless action is taken, these infections could kill more people worldwide by 2050 than cancer does today. 

HEALTH PROFESSIONALS RAISING THE ALARM

The calls for action from the public health community are growing louder, and more urgent. For instance, World Health Organization officials said: "Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill." 

Doctors are also overwhelmingly concerned. In a poll released by Illinois PIRG and Consumer Reports, 93% of doctors polled said they were concerned about the practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention. In addition, 85% of doctors polled said that in the last year, one or more of their patients had a presumed or confirmed case of a drug-resistant infection

IT’S TIME FOR ACTION ON ANTIBIOTIC OVERUSE

Illinois PIRG is organizing the public to push for change. We’ve collected more than 200,000 petitions from citizens and families, built a coalition of more than 30,000 doctors and members of the medical community, and enlisted the support of farmers who raise their livestock without misusing antibiotics.

Large farming operations and the drug industry have resisted change, and have so far blocked efforts in Congress and from government agencies. But now, we're working to convince big restaurants to pressure these farms to change their practices.  


View video credits here.

BIG FARMS & RESTAURANTS NEED TO DO THEIR PART

In March 2015, we helped convince McDonald’s to stop serving chicken raised on our life-saving medicines. Shortly after, Tyson Foods, a major chicken producer and McDonald's supplier, followed suit. Then, in October, we convinced Subway, with more restaurants than any other chain in the United States, to make a commitment to stop serving any meat raised on antibiotics.

Most recently, we helped move KFC, the fried chicken giant, to commit to a policy that by the end of 2018 all chicken purchased by the company in the United States will be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine. As a major chicken buyer, and a company whose supply chain is far reaching, KFC’s new commitment could push the U.S. chicken industry drastically away from the routine use of medically important antibiotics.  

These were huge victories to protect public health, but now, other major chains need to take action. 

Unsurprisingly, the industry is fighting back, trying to confuse consumers with misleading arguments about whether these commitments mean sick animals won't get treatment or whether there are antibiotics in the meat. But we know that's not true, and not the problem here. The problem is that farms are giving antibiotics to animals on a routine basis as a preventative measure — not just to treat sick animals. That routine use can turn farms into breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria. And that's why our call is for meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

With thousands of Americans dying, and millions more getting sick from antibiotic-resistant infections every year, it's time for more chains to follow the lead of Subway, McDonald's, KFC and many others.

If we don’t take decisive action soon, we could face a world in which life-saving antibiotics no longer work. This is why we need your help today.  

Issue updates

Blog Post | COVID-19

“Life and death” -- Medical equipment repairers push for Right to Repair during COVID-19 pandemic | Nathan Proctor

As manufacturers block access to manuals and other fix-it information, biomedical repair technicians press for reform.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG | COVID-19

Hospital repair professionals: Just let us fix life-saving devices like ventilators

Illinois PIRG delivered a letter to state legislators and the governor Monday, signed by 326 hospital repair experts, calling for manufacturers to stop withholding what technicians need to fix medical equipment like ventilators. It’s part of Illinois PIRG's larger Right to Repair Campaign, which aims to remove unnecessary barriers to repair that drive up costs for product owners and increase electronic waste. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

U.S. PIRG Supports Automated Contact Tracing Because More Than Anything Else, America Needs Good Information Before It Can Safely Lift Stay-At-Home Rules | Ed Mierzwinski

This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

The path to reopening must follow public health guidelines | Abe Scarr

Americans are eager to move beyond the shelter-in-place phase of the coronavirus response. But many are still anxious about safety. Public health leaders have laid out our next steps. State and local officials should follow the experts’ advice. The federal government should ensure that they’re able to.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG | COVID-19

Statement supporting public health-driven "Restore Illinois"

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday released “Restore Illinois,” his administration’s plan to safely ease state restrictions on business, education, and recreation implemented in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The plan sets out five phases of reopening, with criteria for moving from one phase to the next, and the ability to move back if conditions worsen.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Americans need stronger consumer protections during COVID-19 crisis

U.S. PIRG Education Fund has released a report with the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action. The report makes recommendations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to upgrade its consumer complaint tool, including the public consumer complaint database, so COVID19-related complaints can be handled more quickly and tracked better.

> Keep Reading
News Release | COVID-19

STATEMENT: After public outcry, ventilator repair restrictions loosen

U.S. PIRG has been calling on manufacturers of ventilators to release all the service information needed for biomedical technicians to repair that equipment. Increasingly, those companies are posting the requested information online. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Consumer Protection

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG and Environment America

EPA decision to undercut mercury pollution standards puts our health at risk

After months of protest, even from members of the industries the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) keeps in check, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an action that defangs the regulations.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

U.S. PIRG calls on Congress to fund the U.S. Postal Service

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many sectors of our society, including the United States Postal Service (USPS). With a significant decline in mail volume due to the virus, the agency is in danger of insolvency. U.S. PIRG is calling on Congress to act immediately to keep the postal service open and serving the American public. Specifically, it must include the financial relief USPS needs as part of the fourth COVID-19 relief package.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

America’s infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges and transit systems are aging and in need of repair.

Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and 21st century transportation priorities. 

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Debt Collectors

Report: Our latest report based on the CFPB's public Consumer Complaint database reviews the most-complained about debt collectors. Funny, a new CFPB complaint "snapshot" does not. The report comes as the CFPB's acting director threatens to make the database non-public. If the CFPB both shuts down the public database and continues to issue industry-friendly reports that don’t give out any real information, the public and marketplace harm is even greater.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Shining A Light on Consumer Problems:

Our report, Shining A Light on Consumer Problems: The Case for Public Access to the CFPB’s Financial Complaints Database, details why it is important that the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database of over one million consumer complaints remain open to the public, so consumers, researchers and others can study the financial marketplace.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Yet, the majority of America’s buses remain dirty – burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

In Your Face

The negative health effects of asbestos are well-known. Most people may associate asbestos contamination with the workplace or decades-old construction material, but alarmingly, recent media reports have found asbestos contamination in kids' makeup from popular stores. PIRG decided to do its own asbestos testing at an accredited laboratory.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Financial Reform

Consumer Groups & Bank Associations Urge Congress To Protect COVID19 Checks From Garnishment | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer groups and bank trade associations in a joint letter urging Congress at the soonest possible opportunity to clarify that economic impact payments responding to this public health emergency are exempt from otherwise legally binding garnishment orders.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

COVID-19 and the question of priorities | Douglas H. Phelps

To keep the sickest people alive during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we need ventilators. We don’t have them — and that says something about our priorities.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19

Comprehensive Testing Needed Now! | Laura Deehan

We are just weeks away from the United States’ expected COVID-19 peak, and as scores of state and local officials are making clear, rather than rollbacks, we need broader testing capacity with the federal government leading the effort. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Cordray To "Oblivious" CFPB: "Shield" Families From Economic Harms | Ed Mierzwinski

Rich Cordray, the first director of the CFPB and author of a new book on his six years at its helm, has issued a powerful memo to its current director, Kathy Kraninger, urging her to stop "relaxing" duties on financial firms and to "lose no further time" in "shield[ing] households and families" from the "economic harms" they face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

No, all 50 governors shouldn't try to buy ventilators on their own | Nathan Proctor

The federal government must show leadership, and coordinate hospital supplies such as masks and ventilators.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

In the wake of the Capital One data breach, Ed Mierzwinski and Adam Garber explain how to protect your credit

Were you affected by the Capital One breach, one of the largest thefts of data from any bank to date?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Chicago water meter installations halted after elevated lead levels found in homes

Some Chicago residents who thought they were getting a new water meter ended up with more than they bargained for: lead in their drinking water.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Illinois taxpayers, commuters dodge $4 billion boondoggle as officials declare Tri-State Tollway expansion project 'effectively dead'

Illinois is hitting the brakes on an expansion of the Tri-State Tollway—and that's good news for taxpayers and commuters.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Not one, not two, but four more states ban single-use plastic bags

The number of statewide plastic bag bans in the U.S. tripled in June, with Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon adding themselves to the list.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

PIRG Consumer Watchdog: Recalled baby rockers could still be at your child's day care

Adam Garber, the PIRG consumer watchdog, was shocked when he discovered recalled baby rockers at his infant son's day care this June.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

I’ve been reading the CFPB’s mail. It’s okay, you can too. It’s public. Not surprisingly, the latest CFPB consumer complaints paint a grim picture of the pandemic’s effect on family finances. I ask: Why isn’t the CFPB doing more to help struggling consumers?

Blog Post

Mortgage servicers failed Americans during the last recession. And if early data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is any indication, history may well be on its way to repeating.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

All four health regions established by Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan entered Phase 3, “Recovery,” on Friday, while Chicago, which has more stringent standards set by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is on track to do so next week. According to data compiled by ProPublica, Illinois is the first state to meet all five of the metrics the White House suggested should be required for a safe reopening.

Blog Post

Every quarter, the Chicago gas delivery utility releases a report on its pipe replacement program. Unfortunately, the first quarter report shows the program continues to struggle: not prioritizing public safety and risk reduction, behind schedule and over budget, and increasingly unaffordable.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

This coming Monday, June 1, will mark the third full month that bills are due since COVID-19 was declared a national state of emergency in March. To help Americans manage their finances, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has published an updated guide with tips on what to do about paying bills during the crisis.

Public Health

Responding to the COVID crisis

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that our government has a coordinated, strategic response to safeguard the public’s health, protect consumers from emerging dangers and ensure people can still participate fully in our democracy.

 

Consumer Protection

Record volume of CFPB complaints encapsulates why Americans need greater financial protection

A U.S. PIRG report finds that complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reached record numbers in April. Credit reporting complaints, which historically top the list, increased by more than 20,000.

 

COVID-19

Illinois PIRG backs governor's plan to prioritize public health in reopening Illinois

Governor J.B. Pritzker has released a five-phase "Restore Illinois" plan to safely and gradually reopen parts of Illinois' economy, following expert public health recommendations in the process. Illinois PIRG supports the plan, and we're continuing to call on the federal government to expand testing and production of protective equipment.

 

Consumer Protection

Chicago City Council issues call to rein in reckless spending by Peoples Gas

For years, the mismanaged Peoples Gas pipe replacement program has been behind schedule and over budget. Now, the Chicago City Council has passed a resolution calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to "restore necessary oversight" of the program.

 
View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your donation supports Illinois PIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



Illinois PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.