Danielle Wadsworth thought nothing of the ground beef she cooked up one night to make tacos for dinner. But several days later, quarantined in the hospital fighting for her life, she was told that she was sickened by Salmonella typhmurium, an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella that was later traced to the beef she’d eaten. Today, she feels lucky to be live.
Danielle was joined by over 50 other advocates in Washington, D.C. this week to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance and its connection to meat production. Livestock raised on industrial farms are often given constant doses of antibiotics to prevent disease in unsanitary living conditions and also to make the animals grow faster. This is creating antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ that can get into our environment and the very food we eat, as Danielle learned.
As part of the “Supermoms Against Superbugs” event hosted by Pew Charitable Trusts (and co-sponsored by Consumers Union) the advocates met with their elected officials asking them to support legislation that would rein in the use of antibiotics on industrial farms in order to preserve their effectiveness to treat human illnesses.
They urged for the passage of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act – or PAMTA – introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) that would end the use of medically important antibiotics on farms except to treat sick animals. Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals (DATA) act would require better reporting by the meat industry regarding which antibiotics are being used in what animals and for what purpose – information they’re currently not required to disclose.
The ‘Supermoms’ group, originally named for the mom-advocates whose children were sickened – and in some cases even killed – by antibiotic-resistant infections, has grown to encompass farmers, chefs, pediatricians, scientists, dietitians, and others from all over the country with a personal connection to this issue and a willingness to fight for change.
Consumers Union, along with several of our activists, was proud to join this group in support of legislative efforts to better regulate how antibiotics are used and reported on industrial farms. But consumers and corporations can often move the marketplace to make change happen faster than legislators or regulators. That’s why we’re also urging grocery stores, starting with Trader Joe’s, to take a stand for public health and stop selling meat raised on antibiotics. Take a minute to tell the company to be a leader and kick its antibiotic-raised meat to the curb.