RachelKolokoffHopper via Shutterstock.com

To stop the overuse of antibiotics, and save our life-saving medicines, we’re getting big farms and restaurants to do their part.

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.

Approximately 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for use on factory farms. We know we can get factory farms to stop misusing our life-saving medicines if their biggest customers commit to buying meat that’s been raised without routine antibiotics.

Over the past few years, we’ve helped McDonald’s, Subway, KFC and others to commit to stop buying chicken raised on antibiotics important to human medicine. The result? In the near future, we estimate that nearly half the chicken in this country will be raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics. We’re talking billions of chickens a year.

McDonald’s Should Lead

If we want to save our antibiotics, we need to stop the overuse of antibiotics by all large industrial farms. So we’re focused on getting the restaurant chain cited as the country’s biggest purchaser of beef and a major pork buyer, McDonald’s, to "Hold The Antibiotics."

McDonald’s no longer serves chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in the U.S., and when they make a similar commitment to phase routine antibiotic use out of their pork and beef supply chains, it will signal a massive shift that could transform the way we raise meat in our country, and more importantly help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, protecting public health, and saving lives.

McDonald’s has indicated that they want to move in this direction. The question is how fast, and how strong of a commitment are they willing to make? This could result in an industry-wide shift away from misusing our life-saving medicines to produce meat.

Several of the more than 30,000 photo petitions and signatures our national network collected calling on McDonald’s to eliminate medically important antibiotics from their chicken supply chains.

The surest way to get McDonald’s to take action is to demonstrate just how much support there is for change and how big of an impact this could have on this growing public health threat.

We know that people and the medical community are behind us. In a poll released by NHPIRG and Consumer Reports, 93 percent of doctors polled said they were concerned about the practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention. And, across the country, 300,000 people have added their names in support for our call to stop the overuse of antibiotics.

To build on this momentum, we’ve created the Health Professional Action Network, a group of physicians and health experts who can present firsthand accounts of why McDonald’s and their shareholders need to take action to help stem antibiotic resistance.

More burger chains should follow McDonald's lead

McDonald's recently committed to monitor and reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its beef supply chain. If more burger chains follow McDonald's lead it can help accelerate industry-wide change to stop overusing life-saving medicines. 

Top photo: USDA