In 2015, the groups now known as the Antibiotics Off the Menu coalition launched a concerted effort to stop the overuse of antibiotics in the meat industry through corporate actions.
At that time, there was a lack of progress on effective federal policy despite years of effort. While this lack of meaningful federal action continues today, rising consumer concern about antibiotic resistance, and interest from restaurant industry leaders like Panera, Chipotle and Chick-fil-A, in doing their part to reduce unnecessary antibiotics use set off a wave of change. Today, more than half of chicken in the United States is produced under an antibiotics stewardship program.
The positive effects of these corporate actions are rippling throughout the livestock industry. The latest Food and Drug Administration data show that in 2016, overall antibiotics sales to the meat industry were down for the first time since recording began in 2009.
Antibiotics Off the Menu is now urging the top six restaurants chains in the U.S. to only buy meat raised without routine antibiotic use. For more on our past campaigns, see below.
After years of engagement but little meaningful change on the antibiotics issue, McDonald's announced in March 2015 that all of its chicken served in the U.S. would be raised without the use of medically important antibiotics, a goal that was achieved ahead of schedule in August 2016.
In the summer of 2015, we turned our attention to Subway, at the time the second largest restaurant chain in the U.S. Given its size and health-focused marketing, “Eat Fresh” brand was in a unique position to unique position to shift the meat industry further away from misusing antibiotics. After our groups reached millions of consumers online, in person, and in the media with the message that Subway could make a difference, the company committed to no longer source any meat raised with antibiotics by 2025.
Our campaign calling on KFC to no longer source chicken raised with routine antibiotics created the industry tipping point. Groups addressed KFC leadership at the Yum! Brands annual shareholder meeting, placed strategic media stories in KFC’s hometown paper and national outlets, and delivered hundreds of thousands of citizen actions into KFC’s headquarters. In April 2017, KFC U.S. announced that the company would only buy chicken raised without medically important antibiotics by the end of 2018.