Category Archives: Antibiotics

Subway commits to antibiotic-free poultry by the end of 2016

140312152136-overtime-violations-subway-1024x576Subway has been one of the better fast food chains when it comes to listening to consumer demand and providing healthy improvements to their menu items. is happy to hear that once again, Subway is listening to their customers.  Subway commits to antibiotic-free poultry — joining a list of fast food giants who are offering antibiotic free poultry to their customers.

The parade of fast-food companies promising to sell meat from animals that never received antibiotics just got significantly longer. Subway, the ubiquitous sandwich chain, is following the lead of Chipotle, Panera, Chick-fil-A and McDonalds, with its promise Tuesday that its meat suppliers gradually will go antibiotic-free.

In one respect, in fact, Subway is going further than McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, which have promised only to serve antibiotic-free poultry. Subway is laying out a timetable for its suppliers of beef and pork to go antibiotic-free as well.

Getting adequate supplies of such beef and pork, however, appears to be more difficult, and will take longer, than accomplishing the same task with poultry. According to Subway’s statement, the “transition to chicken raised without antibiotics will be completed by the end of 2016.” Beef and pork, however, will take until 2025.

The reason is simple. Antibiotic poultry production is now mainstream. Big poultry producers like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride are gradually getting rid of antibiotics that are used in human medicine. (The use of medically useful antibiotics in agriculture is controversial because it increases the chances that bacteria will become resistant to those drugs, rendering those drugs useless against some infections.)

Perdue Farms, which has led the poultry industry’s move away from antibiotics, says that 95 percent of its chickens already receive no human antibiotics, and more than half of its chickens receive no antibiotics at all.

Pork and beef, however, have been a different story. Most large-scale hog operations and feedlots still rely at least occasionally on the use of antibiotics.

Subway has been under fierce attack by some opponents of antibiotic use in agriculture, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe.

In a statement, NRDC’s Lena Brook praised the fast-food chain’s move, calling it “a strong plan that will help the company live up to the healthy image it has long-cultivated.”

So Subway isn’t simply following the path started by other fast food chains who are using only antibiotic free poultry – they’re going a step further and committing to antibiotic free beef and pork. We’re hopeful that those other chains commit to go the extra mile as well.

McDonald’s pledges to discontinue use of antibiotics in its chicken in two years

McDonalds-to-discontinue-antibiotics-in-chickenMcDonald’s responds to consumer health concerns, committing to end the use of antibiotics in its chicken products.

It will focus on removing those antibiotics that can have an impact on human health, but keep those necessary for poultry welfare.

Chicken served in its US restaurants will be free of such antibiotics within two years, it said.

In Europe, McDonald’s is also phasing out the use of certain “critically important” antibiotics.

There are concerns that the overuse of antibiotics in chicken may reduce the drugs’ effectiveness in humans.

McDonald’s has been battling to win back customers amid slowing sales.

Many poultry producers in US give their birds antibiotics to make them grow faster. But overuse of the drugs could lead to them becoming less effective in treating illness and disease in humans.

In a statement, Marion Gross, senior vice-president of North America supply chain, said that McDonald’s “believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care and our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed medications. But after treatment, the bird “will no longer be included in our food supply”.

However, McDonald’s chicken will be given ionophores, an antibiotic which helps keep chickens healthy but is not used for humans.

The company also said that US dairy products, such as low fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk, would be derived from cows that have not been treated with rbST – an artificial growth hormone.

“While no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows, we understand this is something that is important to our customers,” Ms Gross said.

The changes come in response to growing consumer demand for food made with natural ingredients only.

We’re not used to praising McDonald’s, but does feel that it’s important to acknowledge improvements when they are made. Good job, McDonald’s. Now if you could only start eliminating the controversial ingredients included in your products, we’d really be on to something.

Chick-fil-A announces plans to serve only antibiotic-free chicken. What about the rest of the ingredients?

iStock_000021182570Small.jpgSounds like a good move, right? Chick-fil-A wants consumers to “Eat Mor Chikin” so they’re planning on only using chickens raised without antibiotics within the next five years.

“Since our family business began 67 years ago, we have focused on our customers. It’s why we insist upon using the highest quality ingredients,” Dan Cathy, president and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, said in a statement. “We want to continue that heritage, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step.”

Chick-fil-A’s announcement comes amid a growing awareness about the problem of antibiotic resistance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that antibiotics in livestock are contributing to the rise of dangerous bacteria. Many antibiotics that farmers give food-producing animals are also used to treat sick humans.

Chick-fil-A has made other changes to its ingredients in recent years, such as removing yellow dye from its chicken soup. The company is also testing the possibility of taking out other food additives, including artificial ingredients in the buns and high fructose corn syrup in dressings and sauces.

While certainly thinks the move to antibiotic-free chicken is a good one, we wonder why Chick-fil-A is not focusing more on the ingredients they’re using to prepare their menu items. O.k., they removed the yellow dye from their chicken soup. That’s great. But have you looked at the ingredient list in their chicken salad? They include monosodium glutamate, caramel color, TBHQ, high fructose corn syrup, calcium disodium EDTA and Polysorbate 80. From the president and CEO’s statement, perhaps we should be led to believe that they’re using only the highest quality MSG?

Antibiotic-free chicken is a welcome change for Chick-fil-A, but it’s really only the tip of the iceberg here and the rest of that iceberg is huge. We don’t want to discourage any moves made in the right direction. We just need several more moves before we can honestly find that Chick-fil-A is listening to consumer concerns about product quality and healthier eating.

So what about the ingredients that can’t be listed on the label?

We spend a lot of time here at talking about ingredients. Our site highlights controversial items in our food supply and explains what makes those ingredients a concern for our health. But there are ingredients that we won’t find listed on any label that are just as controversial for our health and safety as those that are. And those ingredients can typically be traced to fresh poultry and livestock products all over America. And they’re coming from antibiotic feed additives used for livestock and poultry.

Between 2001 and 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly reviewed the safety of 30 penicillin and tetracycline antibiotic feed additives approved for “nontherapeutic use”. Nontherapeutic use refers to using antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent disease in typically crowded, often unsanitary conditions in livestock and poultry. The Natural Resources Defense Council obtained the previously undisclosed review documents from the FDA as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency and subsequent litigation made necessary by FDA’s failure to provide any of the requested documents.

The FDA’s scientific reviewers’ findings show that none of these products would likely be approvable as new additives for nontherapeutic livestock use if submitted today, under current FDA guidelines. Eighteen of the 30 reviewed feed additives were deemed to pose a “high risk” of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the food supply, based on the information available. The remainder lacked adequate data for the reviewers to make any determination and their safety remains unproven. In addition, the FDA concluded in their review that at least 26 of the reviewed feed additives do not satisfy even the safety standards set by FDA in 1973.

The FDA has not revoked any of the antibiotic additive approvals or required any drug manufacturer to resubmit a product for a new safety assessment following the agency’s reviews, though two were voluntarily withdrawn by their makers.

The significance of these findings extends far beyond the 30 antibiotic feed additives reviewed. The FDA data indicate that the types of antibiotics in the reviewed additives — tetracyclines and penicillins — together make up nearly half of all the antibiotics used in animal agriculture. Other feed additives with these same antibiotics, including generics, that are approved for similar uses would likely pose a similar risk of promoting antibiotic resistance. This risk was recognized by the FDA in 1977 when it proposed to withdraw approvals for animal feed additives containing penicillin and most tetracyclines.

The use of tetracyclines and penicillins in animal feed is part of a larger problem of antibiotic overuse. Approximately 70 percent of all sales of medically important antibiotics in the United States are for livestock use. Scientists have demonstrated that nontherapeutic use of antibiotics to raise livestock promotes drug-resistant bacteria that can migrate from livestock facilities and threaten public health. These bacteria can spread resistant traits to other bacteria, and some of these shared traits also can confer resistance to antibiotics used primarily in human medicine.

Late last year, the FDA announced a plan to phase out some antibiotics that promote weight gain. But that proposed phase out was planned as voluntary, not mandatory, and to date nothing’s been done.

We’ve all heard reports about antibiotic resistance and probable consequences — superbugs that can infect populations that may not respond to antibiotics, or more probably, everyday infections that are treated with antibiotics successfully now that could become resistant over time becoming tremendous medical problems. All the while, our livestock and poultry are fed antibiotics that can contribute to those reports. All for the sake of “bigger food.” It’s definitely time for the FDA to take action and put an end to this potential threat to the health of Americans.

Evidence of widespread ground turkey contamination makes every effort to keep our community informed on the latest food recalls that happen just about every day. We try to stay as up-to-date as possible regarding breaking news on any and every kind of food contamination. And today is no different than every other day when it comes to reporting on this disturbing category of food news.

A new study from Consumer Reports is showing that well over half of the ground turkey samples they examined are contaminated with fecal bacteria. In addition more than 90 percent of ground turkey samples tested contained at least one of the five bacteria the test was designed to find: salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, enterococcus and campylobacter. The test examined 257 retail samples from 21 states and 27 different brands and every sample was purchased at a retail establishment.

Specifically, 69% of samples Consumer Reports tested contained enterococcus and 60% tested positive for E.coli. Both of these bacteria are associated with fecal contamination. Some of the bacteria found in these samples can cause food poisoning, urinary bloodstream and other infections.

The response from industry groups was immediate. The National Turkey Federation refuted the study as “alarmist,” stating “The magazine reported high levels of certain pathogens on the samples tested, but it is important to note that the two most prevalent, enterococcus and generic E. coli, are not considered sources of foodborne illness.”

As if the evidence of fecal contamination wasn’t enough to alarm consumers about the consumption of ground turkey, Consumer Reports also found that many of the disease-causing organisms that were tested were resistant to the antibiotics used to fight them. Consumer Reports tested both conventional turkey meat and turkey meat from birds that were not fed antibiotics. Conventional ground turkey was compared to ground turkey labeled “no antibiotics,” “organic,” (which doesn’t use antibiotics) or “raised without antibiotics” — and all were found to be equally likely to contain the bacteria the magazine included in its study. However, bacteria on the antibiotic-free ground turkey was less likely to be antibiotic-resistant.

The Environmental Working Group recently released a study showing that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rise with 81% of raw ground turkey, 69% of raw pork chops and 55% of raw ground beef purchased at retail during 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Betsy Booren, Chief Scientist of the American Meat Institute responded to the concerns regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria in the Consumer Reports Study saying, “The U.S. meat and poultry industry supports the judicious use of antibiotics. The American Meat Institute recognizes that concerns exist and supports efforts now under way to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion.” will follow the responses to this important research from Consumer Reports. In the meantime, you can read more about their findings in the June Consumer Reports article here:

A new – and natural weapon against antibiotic resistant infections? read some information today that may prove to be very valuable to the entire population when it comes to fighting antibiotic resistant staph infections. In the recent past, these infections have been becoming increasingly more common and have posed a real threat to survival.

A study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation was conducted by several institutions including The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, UCLA and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. It was focused on the increasing number of “super infections” that have been springing up worldwide.

For generations, antibiotics have proven to be a powerful defense against any number of infections … and in many cases still are. But in an increasing number of instances there have been difficulties with the resistance of certain forms of bacteria to antibiotics. Specifically pointed out was the staphylococcus aureus bacteria or staph infection.
In the study, clinical doses of nicotinamide or Vitamin B3 successfully increased the number and efficiency of a special kind of white blood cell that can kill off harmful bacteria. The study noted that this may well give doctors a new way to treat deadly staph infection that could possibly be combined with existing antibiotics. It could possibly stimulate and enhance the power of the human immune system and help it respond to infection with more intense action against infection.

Animals in the study were given Vitamin B3 at therapeutic levels that were far greater than our normal diets could provide. The affects of the vitamin were also studied in human blood. The amounts of the vitamin used were considered safe in the human population. It is important to note that the study did not focus on whether or not regular doses of the vitamin (whether through diet or supplementation) would have the same effects for treating bacterial infection and they don’t want to encourage people to begin taking larger doses of Vitamin B3 because of the findings.

Doctors who had studied bacterial infections for the last decade found that Vitamin B3 has the ability to enable antimicrobial genes that increase the body’s immune cells to kill bacteria.

One of the most exciting discoveries found through the study was the effectiveness of Vitamin B3 on one of the most common and most serious staff infections affecting the public today – MRSA. Unfortunately it is accepted that the widespread usage of antibiotics has contributed to the increase of instances of MRSA infection. Dr. George Liu, an infectious disease expert at Cedars-Sinai and co-senior author on the study, said that “this vitamin is surprisingly effective in fighting off and protecting against one of today’s most concerning public health threats.” When Vitamin B 3 was used in human blood in clinical doses it appeared to destroy the staph infection in only a few hours.

This is an exciting finding and one which hopes will undergo further study in order to offer greater protection of the public health in the coming years. Read more: