Friends of the Earth welcomes Subway’s historic plan to eliminate antibiotics in its meat supply

Game-changing step will drive major changes in U.S. livestock production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends of the Earth welcomes Subway’s historic announcement today that it will eliminate antibiotics use in its chicken by next year and in all its U.S. meat supplies within nine years. This announcement comes after months of public pressure and just days after Friends of the Earth, NRDC, PIRG, FoodBabe.com and Center for Food Safety informed the company of their plans to deliver a quarter of a million signatures demanding action on antibiotics.

“We are excited to see the world’s largest restaurant chain take this game-changing step that will create a seismic shift in the industry. However, the devil is in the details. To do this right, Subway needs to work with its suppliers to improve management practices and change the unsanitary confinement conditions that cause animals to get sick in the first place,” said Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager with Friends of the Earth. “Over time, we hope that Subway will shift its sourcing of meat away from confinement-based polluting factory farms toward more sustainable pasture-based livestock systems that are healthier for people, animals and the environment.”

Earlier this year, 60 groups sent a letter asking Subway to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics in all of its meat; to adopt third-party auditing of its antibiotics use policy; and to benchmark results showing progress in meeting its goals.

The announcement today makes no mention of how the company plans to audit or report to the public on its progress. Subway’s “no antibiotics ever” policy announced today also deviates from the specific request to eliminate routine use.

“Friends of the Earth and many of our allies believe that it is important for the sake of animal welfare — and for the economic well-being of producers — to allow antibiotics for treatment of sick animals. We hope that other fast food giants like Wendy’s and Burger King will follow Subway’s lead to eliminate antibiotics in its supply chain but also put in place policies that allow for the treatment of sick animals. This will ultimately be healthier for animals and for the farmers and ranchers that are committed to producing more humane, sustainably raised meat for America’s families.”

Last month, Friends of the Earth and allies released a new report and scorecard that graded America’s 25 largest fast food and fast casual chains on their meat and poultry antibiotics policies, with all but five of them earning “F”s for allowing routine antibiotic use by their meat suppliers. The five chains earning passing grades include Panera Bread (PNRA), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s (MCD) and Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN).

“Next year, we look forward to replacing Subway’s ‘F’ with a much higher grade,” added Hamerschlag.

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Expert contact: Kari Hamerschlag, (510) 207-7257, khamerschlag@foe.org
Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org