There’s been a growing call for action in recent weeks to address the threat to public health posed by the routine use of antibiotics in healthy food animals.  It’s no wonder given years of inaction by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and mounting evidence that the overuse of antibiotics in meat production is getting worse.

Editorials in the New York TimesSan Jose Mercury News, and Los Angeles Times over the past month have echoed the concerns of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and countless other public health organizations that its time to get serious about this reckless practice.

Each of these newspapers called on government to limit antibiotic use on food animals. But while we are waiting for Congress and federal agencies to do something, supermarkets have a responsibility to act now to protect public health.  That’s why we’ve called on Trader Joe’s to be a leader in the industry and end all sales of meat raised on antibiotics in its stores.

The problem is simple:  The use of antibiotics in livestock to promote faster growth and make up for crowded and unsanitary conditions is making these precious drugs less effective for people.  As the San Jose Mercury News noted:

“…[R]ecent studies indicate that overuse of antibiotics in animals is leading to more dangerous forms of Salmonella, E coli and urinary tract and blood infections. Doctors fear the development of some new form of infection unresponsive to any known drugs.”

Four times as many pounds of antibiotics are used on livestock compared to people.  And while a concerted effort by the CDC has helped to encourage doctors to use antibiotics more wisely with their patients, the use of these drugs for meat production has been climbing steadily over the past decade.

We believe grocery stores should only stock meat and poultry raised without antibiotics.  Only Whole Foods currently does so.

Our Meat Without Drugs campaign is targeting Trader Joe’s because we believe it is in the best position to make this commitment.  So far, over a half million consumers have supported our campaign and urged Trader Joe’s to be a leader on this critical issue.  It’s time for Trader Joe’s to take a stand for public health.