Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture
Goal: Ban antibiotic-treated meat from school lunches.
About 80% of the antibiotics in the United States are used to feed livestock so they can be raised more efficiently for food. These healthy animals are given antibiotics every single day, largely to curb the effects of the terrible environments they are raised in. Animals fed with antibiotics are 4-5% bigger than other animals, don’t get sick, and live a bit longer than untreated animals. But the problem with antibiotics is that germs will always find ways to circumvent them. Animals treated with antibiotics can carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can then transfer to humans who eat their meat.
The Food and Drug Administration has only recently begun to regulate the use of these antibiotics. Congress did not require companies to tell the FDA how much of the antibiotic they were planning to use until 2008. The use of antibiotics to treat livestock is still very much unregulated. Drug and food industries have powerful lobbyists, and so the FDA has done little to curb the practice.
One woman’s 15-year-old son was infected with an antibiotic-resistant “superbug” after eating chemically treated chicken from a school lunch. The boy became so ill that he lost 30 pounds and had to miss a month of school. He recovered, but not all children do. Drug-resistant MRSA infections can be easily spread by eating antibiotic-treated meat. MRSA kills more people each year than AIDS.
April 16 is Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day. The Pew Charitable Trust’s members will meet with legislators in Washington DC and ask them to not only keep antibiotic-treated meat out of school lunches, but to avoid treating livestock with antibiotics altogether. The American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and American Academy of Pediatrics have spoken out against the use of antibiotics in meat.
Support Supermoms Against Superbugs and urge the USDA to ban antibiotic-treated meat in school lunches.
Dear Mr. Vilsack,
We are concerned about the use of antibiotics to treat livestock. These medications make animals susceptible to drug-resistant infections like MRSA, which can then infect the people who eat the meat. The use of antibiotic-treated meat hasn’t been regulated much because food and drug corporations have strong lobbyists and a lot of purchasing power.
Children are especially susceptible to these drug-resistant bacterial infections because their immune systems haven’t finished forming. One woman is leading a group of concerned parents, called Supermoms Against Superbugs, to Washington DC to protest the use of antibiotics in school lunches. Her son got very sick after eating antibiotic-treated chicken. He lost 30 pounds and couldn’t go to school for a month, missing his chance to be on the baseball team that year.
We urge you to prohibit the use of antibiotic-treated meat in school lunches, and to curb the use of them further in the future.
[Your Name Here]