Members of the Meat Without Drugs coalition yesterday delivered a petition to Trader Joe’s signed by nearly 560,000 people asking the company  to only sell meat raised without antibiotics.

Standing alongside campaign mascot Joe the Pig, representatives from Consumers Union, MomsRising and Food & Water Watch all spoke to the need for meat producers to end the overuse of antibiotics in livestock in order to preserve their effectiveness for human use.

“The rampant use of antibiotics on livestock is weakening the power of these critical medications to treat infectious diseases in people,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union.  “We need meat without drugs to help ensure that the antibiotics we depend on will work when we need them most.  We think supermarkets have a responsibility to help end this crisis.”

The event also featured Kim Howland of Oklahoma, a former worker in a hog farming facility, who carried home a MRSA infection from the farm that hospitalized several members of her family.   MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant superbug, can be found on hog farms and farmworkers can be carriers of the bacteria.    Howland’s husband became seriously ill and had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the flesh eating MRSA infection from his leg.

“I had no idea that all those antibiotics on the farm were creating dangerous superbugs that could harm my family and show up on meat sold in stores,” said Howland.  “We experienced how frightening it can be when antibiotic-resistant superbugs spread from the farm to the community.”

Progressive grocery retailer Trader Joe’s has shown a commitment to public health by eliminating GMOs, trans fats, and artificial colors and preservatives from their store brand products.   The petition asks the store to now be a leader within the grocery industry and help pressure livestock producers to move away from overusing antibiotics in animals by only selling meat raised without drugs.

Some customers also sent comments to Trader Joe’s along with their petition signatures.   Jan from Valley Village, CA said:  ”I love Trader Joe’s and I count on them to give me the best quality and safest products.  Eliminating antibiotics in our food is a must.”     Barbara from Lebanon, OH shared this strong message with the company:  ”I loved shopping at Trader Joe’s, but didn’t have any idea they sell meat raised with antibiotics.  Unless they change this practice, I won’t be back there.”   Many others expressed surprise that the company doesn’t already have a policy against selling meat raised with antibiotics.

So far the company is refusing to meet with Consumers Union to discuss the issue.  Help us send them a message:  check out this quick video of the event, and then send it to Trader Joe’s CEO!

 

Consumers Union thanks the following partners for helping to gather the half million signatures delivered to Trader Joe’s:  CREDO Action, Care2.org, Change.org, Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, MomsRising, Natural Resources Defense Council, and SignOn.org, and a special thanks to the folks at STOP Foodborne Illness.