Antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis. Institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned of an impending post-antibiotic era, where common infections can once again kill. Antibiotics use in both humans and animals contributes to the problem. Yet approximately 64% of medically important antibiotics in the US are currently sold for use in food-producing animals, not people. (Classes of medically important drugs are defined by the World Health Organization’s CIA List.)
The WHO released recommendations in November 2017 calling on farmers and the food industry to stop the routine use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention purposes on food animals that aren't sick.
Large buyers of meat and poultry have an especially important role to play in encouraging their suppliers to end the routine use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention and growth promotion purposes.
ANTIBIOTICS OFF THE MENU MEMBERS AGREE TO FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:
1. We support efforts to curb the growing public health threat from the spread of antibiotic resistant superbugs by reducing the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both agriculture and human medicine.
2. We urge companies involved in the production, marketing, and sales of meat and poultry (livestock producers, supermarkets, restaurants, etc.) to set and implement timebound policies that eliminate the routine use of medically important antibiotics in their supply chains.
3. We believe medically important antibiotics should not be used to promote animal growth or for disease prevention. Antibiotics should only be used to treat diagnosed disease identified by a licensed veterinarian, and in limited circumstances, to control identified disease outbreaks. An antibiotic is medically important if it is used in human medicine or is closely related to human drugs.
4. We believe that human drugs of last resort, such as colistin and vancomycin, which are the last line of defense against life-threatening infections, should not be used at all in animal medicine.
5. We support efforts to promote sustainable agricultural production methods that provide alternatives to the use of antibiotics in healthy food animals.
6. We support the public’s right-to-know about antibiotic use policies and practices. Companies should utilize third-party auditors to ensure compliance with antibiotics policies. Companies should report on their progress in meeting policy goals annually, and share data on antibiotics use in their meat and poultry supplies.