Consumer coalition calls for In-N-Out Burger to reduce routine antibiotics use in beef

Consumer coalition calls for In-N-Out Burger to reduce routine antibiotics use in beef

Over 50 groups call on restaurant chain to change beef sourcing policies

OAKLAND, CALIF. – Public interest, environmental, food safety and consumer groups representing millions of consumers today announced a campaign calling on In-N-Out Burger, California’s iconic hamburger restaurant chain, to stop selling beef produced with the routine use of antibiotics. These groups, including CALPIRG Education Fund, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, along with author and activist Vani Hari, delivered a letter to the company’s corporate headquarters signed by more than 50 groups urging that the company commit to a strong antibiotics policy. CALPIRG Education Fund staff and volunteers also held public outreach efforts at In-N-Out restaurants and other locations to motivate the company to do its part to help protect the public from antibiotic resistance.

Most meat served by America’s chain restaurants comes from animals raised in industrial-scale facilities where they are routinely fed antibiotics to prevent disease that is easily spread in crowded, unsanitary and stressful conditions. This overuse of antibiotics in livestock production contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections that claim at least 23,000 lives each year.  Major restaurant chains can influence their meat suppliers to adopt better practices by committing to purchase meat only from farms that don’t abuse life-saving medicines.

“As a hamburger restaurant known for its high-quality, fresh ingredients, In-N-Out should be a leader on this issue,” said Jason Pfeifle, Public Health Advocate with CALPIRG Education Fund. “It’s time for the company to set a strong antibiotics policy that will help push the meat industry to do the right thing for public health.”

Consumer advocates and volunteers passed out literature at In-N-Out locations around the state about the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and asked passersby to take a photo posing with signs that read: “I’m an In-N-Out lover, but I’m hungry for beef raised without routine antibiotics,” and other slogans. The photos were posted on Twitter and Instagram with #InNOutSaveABX #InNOutBurgers.

“It’s time for In-N-Out Burger to respond to consumers and fill the void left by the FDA’s failed policies by working with its meat suppliers to improve practices and end the misuse of antibiotics,” said Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth.

Last year McDonald’s announced it would stop selling chicken raised with medically important antibiotics after consumers across the country demanded it. Shortly after the McDonald’s announcement, Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. poultry producer, committed to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in raising their birds. Subway also committed to transition away from all meats raised on antibiotics, starting with chicken. These commitments were major wins for public health and came on the heels of several public mobilization campaigns.

“In-N-Out is a highly regarded chain that many people believe serve better food than other fast food competitors. It’s time to live up to their reputation and stop lagging behind companies like Elevation Burger and Shake Shack who have responsibly decided not to serve meet raised with routine antibiotics or growth hormones,” said author and activist Vani Hari.

Other groups calling on In-N-Out to make this commitment made the following statements:

“Until strong federal regulations prohibit the routine use of antibiotics and other drugs in animals raised for food, commitments from In-N-Out and other popular restaurants to source more responsibly raised meat can help protect human health, animal welfare, and the environment,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director with Center for Food Safety.

“The public health crisis of antibiotic resistance warrants immediate action from all sectors,” said Laura Rogers, deputy director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health. “While the U.S. government has taken some action, it is not enough. We need companies, like In-N-Out Burger, to harness their purchasing power and demand that the meat they serve is raised with responsible antibiotic use.”

Background on antibiotics overuse on industrial farms:

Antibiotic-resistant infections kill 23,000 Americans, and sicken 2 million every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most large industrial farms administer antibiotics on a routine basis to animals that often aren’t sick in an effort to promote growth and prevent disease brought on by unsanitary production practices. In the United States, 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are sold for use on food animals.. That overuse breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria that rapidly multiply and spread off of farms via contaminated meat, direct human to animal contact, and through the air, water and soil.

California recently passed landmark legislation that prohibits the routine use of antibiotics on animals for growth promotion or disease prevention. This first-in-the-nation law must be implemented by January 2018. Strong antibiotics commitments from California-based restaurant chains will help move livestock producers to comply with the new law more quickly.

For more information consult the CALPIRG Education Fund website.


Expert contacts:
Jason Pfeifle, CALPIRG Education Fund, (626) 221-4925, [email protected]
Kari Hamerschlag, Friends of the Earth, (510) 207-7257, [email protected]

Communications contact: Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, (703) 622-9093, [email protected]

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