Antibiotics save millions of lives each year by fighting off bacterial infections. They have been the backbone of medicine, yet many of us take them for granted. With the global spread of bacterial superbugs, more and more infections are now much harder—or even impossible—to treat with antibiotics. In fact, antibiotic resistance has been identified as a top health crisis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
The overuse of antibiotics has sped up the development and spread of these superbugs. More responsible use of antibiotics in cows, pigs, turkeys, and chickens must be part of the solution. Yet U.S. livestock producers still routinely give antibiotics—the same or similar ones used by doctors—to animals that aren’t even sick.
NRDC is working to transform livestock antibiotics use practices and slow down the rise of superbugs. We’ve put public pressure on food industry giants like Subway and KFC, which both committed to ending routine antibiotic use in their supply chains. Every year, NRDC and our allies publish “Chain Reaction,” a report that reviews the antibiotic use policies of top restaurant chains. This public pressure has led more companies to adopt voluntary commitments. But it’s not enough. That’s why NRDC advocates for laws restricting the use of medically important antibiotics on animals—we’ve won such laws in California and Maryland—as well as policies that require companies to be more transparent about their antibiotics practices, such as an ordinance we helped pass in San Francisco.
Though we’ve seen significant progress in the chicken industry, there is still a great deal of work ahead on beef and pork. NRDC will continue to call on companies and policymakers to fight this growing threat to life-saving modern medicine.