|Slaughter Asks Fast Food Companies, “What’s in the Beef?”|
|February 16, 2012|
Sends letter asking companies to disclose use of antibiotics in meat production
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and the only microbiologist in Congress, today sent a letter to over 60 fast food companies, producers, processors, and grocery chains asking them to disclose their policies on antibiotic use in meat and poultry production.
In addition to asking for company policy, Slaughter asked the restaurants to provide a breakdown of the percentages of beef, pork and poultry which they serve raised "without any antibiotics," raised with antibiotics only for "therapeutic reasons," or raised with "routine use of antibiotics."
"Very simply, consumers have a right to know what's in their food," said Slaughter. "It's like that old commercial, 'where's the beef?' We just want to know, 'what's in the beef?' The US is facing a growing public health crisis in the form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and information about how these companies are contributing to its rise or resolution should be available to consumers."
Citing some alarming statistics, including that in 2011 the US had the most outbreaks ever of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella due to contaminated meat and poultry, the letter noted that "the practice of routinely feeding antibiotics to chickens, cows, and swine has been shown to harm human health by contributing to diseases that do not respond to treatment."
"There are some who would have us believe that we must pump our food up with antibiotics to keep prices low and affordable," said Slaughter. "But the food industry has proven success stories and leaders who understand the benefits that come from raising and serving antibiotic-free meat. It is not incompatible for us to have healthy and affordable food."
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration released data revealing that in the United States 80 percent of all antibiotics are used in food-animals, not humans. Since then, and in conjunction with a rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the practice of routinely feeding antibiotics has come under scrutiny.
In December 2011, Slaughter hosted a briefing titled "Keeping Antibiotics Working" where farmers and successful businesses extolled the benefits of tapping into the growing domestic and international demand for antibiotic-free meat. The group urged congressional action to preserve antibiotics for the treatment of human diseases, an issue Slaughter has been working on for years.
Since 2007, Congresswoman Slaughter has been the author of legislation titled The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease. The legislation would prevent agricultural overuse of seven classes of antibiotics important for human health.
The full list of letter recipients is below.
Applegate Organic and Natural Meats
Au Bon Pain
Bell & Evans
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits
Bon Appétit Management Company
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Coleman Natural Foods
Compass Group North America
Dean & Deluca
Domino's Pizza LLC
Five Guys Enterprises, LLC
Hormel Foods Corporation
Jack In the Box
Jennie-O Turkey Store
National Beef Packing Company, LLC
Ozark Mountain Pork
Pilgrims Pride Corporation
Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits
Roy Rogers Restaurants
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
Stop and Shop
Tyson Foods, Inc.