New Poll: Californians Are Highly Concerned about Meat from Animals Routinely Fed Antibiotics

Vast Majority of Californians Say Antibiotic Overuse in Livestock is Problematic and Want State Leadership Now

SAN FRANCISCO (June 1, 2015) – California residents are seriously concerned about the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in meat and poultry production and an overwhelming majority favor California leaders taking action to close gaps in federal oversight, according to a new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Support is strong across income levels and across the political spectrum. California legislators are currently considering a measure to tackle these issues, Senate Bill 27 authored by Senator Jerry Hill. NRDC and other public interest groups have urged lawmakers to strengthen the bill before it reaches the Governor’s desk.

“Californians want bold state leadership to fight the antibiotic resistance public health crisis, which will only worsen if business as usual continues,” said Jonathan Kaplan, NRDC Food and Agriculture director. “To safeguard life-saving antibiotics for humans, we need real reforms that put an end to the unnecessary and near daily doses of antibiotics improperly fed to industrial farm animals that are not sick. Our elected officials have an opportunity to act on protecting consumer health this legislative session and the public is behind them”

Californians overwhelmingly agree that antibiotic resistance is a major concern and government action can lead the way to protect public health:

  • 81 percent agree that “antibiotics becoming less effective in treating disease” is a problem.
  • 76 percent agree that “overuse of antibiotics in our food supply” is a problem.
  • 84 percent agree that it is “important to have government oversight and regulation of livestock antibiotics use,” with 53 percent of voters who agree that this is very important.
  • Three in four favor their member of the legislature supporting a law that would increase state regulation of antibiotics use in meat and poultry.
  • Two in three favor California taking action on its own to reduce the use of antibiotics in meat and poultry production and to close the loophole in the federal approach that allows large-scale meat and poultry producers to feed antibiotics to animals nearly every day, even if animals are not sick. SB 27 does not close this loophole. 

“The practice of giving routine doses of antibiotics to animals is akin to giving antibiotics to your kids before they head off to day care when what they really should be doing is washing their hands,” said Avinash Kar, NRDC health attorney. “We don’t do that with our kids and meat and poultry producers shouldn’t be doing this with the animals they raise. Californians expect action from this industry and our state’s leaders can require that change.”

The poll also found that a strong majority of Californians at all income levels support meat and poultry raised without antibiotics in the marketplace and are willing to pay more for meat and poultry that would reduce the use of antibiotics in the food supply.

  • 73 percent agree that it would be ‘worth it’ to pay between 1 percent and 3 percent more for meat and poultry to ensure that antibiotics are used only when animals are sick or to prevent disease.
  • Importantly, this willingness to pay more is nearly as high among residents with household incomes under $50,000 (70 percent worth it) as it is among those with incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 (76 percent) and those with incomes of $100,000 or more (81 percent).

Hart Research Associates conducted the survey from April 9 to April 12, 2015. It included 600 telephone interviews with California voters likely to cast ballots in November 2016. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 4.0 percentage points. 

Hart Research Associate’s memo on the findings from a survey on the use of antibiotics in livestock in California can found here:


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