Blog

Tastes like victory!

By Bill Wenzel
National Antibiotics Program Director

I am excited to announce that, yesterday, Subway announced plans to transition all of their meats to be antibiotic-free. As the largest fast food chain on the planet, Subway is poised to drive real change in the industry and help keep antibiotics working for future generations.
 
For the past year, the MASSPIRG Education Fund and our sister PIRGs across the country have worked with medical professionals, fast food customers, and coalition partners like NRDC, Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, and the Center for Food Safety to save antibiotics by stopping their overuse in agriculture:
• Last fall, we asked President Obama and the Food and Drug Administration to issue strong regulations. Despite strong urging from the medical community and consumer advocates, it became clear that would not happen soon. We decided to switch our strategy to work in the marketplace.
• In January, we launched a campaign targeting McDonald’s, one of the country’s largest purchasers of meat. With field organizers around the country, we mobilized McDonald’s actual customers and built pressure through traditional and social media. Almost immediately, McDonald’s got back in touch with our coalition partners after months without contact.
• In March, McDonald’s USA announced that they would transition to chicken raised without medically-important antibiotics within two years. Tyson, one of the country’s largest chicken producers and a major McDonald’s supplier, announced that it would also phase out antibiotics on an even faster timeline.
• In June, we launched our campaign targeting Subway. This summer we knocked on doors around the country and had hundreds of thousands of in-person conversations about the campaign. We gathered over 110,000 petitions in person and online, organized the support of medical professionals, collected nearly 2,000 photo petitions to post on social media, and published opinion media in outlets across the country.
• Yesterday, Subway announced timelines to transition all of its meats away from antibiotics, outdoing McDonald’s and establishing itself as a leader on the issue.
 
Our work in the field has been a critical part of pushing McDonald’s and Subway to join chains such as Chick-fil-A, Panera, Chipotle, and Shake Shack in preserving antibiotics for future generations. We’ll be working with our coalition partners in the next few weeks to thank Subway for its leadership and plan our next steps in this ongoing campaign to move the marketplace.
 


If you’re interested in hearing more, don’t hesitate to contact me at bwenzel@pirg.org or (312) 544-4436 ext. 303.

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