NEW YORK – Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, urged specialty grocer Trader Joe's to stop selling meat and poultry raised on antibiotics. The group is targeting Trader Joe's because the retailer already offers some chicken and beef products produced without antibiotics, but not pork.
However, agricultural organizations have been united in their stance that restrictions on antibiotic use would harm animals and limit producers' ability to prevent, control and treat diseases. When used properly and under supervision by a veterinarian, these groups say, antibiotics are key to ensuring a safe food supply.
The group's Meat Without Drugs campaign is lobbying Trader Joe's to change its' purchasing practices to address what Consumers Union says is a major public health crisis — antibiotic resistance in humans caused by overuse of antibiotics in the meat and poultry industries. The campaign is supported by consumer, environmental and animal welfare organizations.
"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 group points to findings by Consumer Reports that two-thirds of chicken samples it tested were contaminated with Salmonella or campylobacter or both, and more than 60 percent of those organisms were antibiotic-resistant.
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