Earlier this week, a group from Consumers Union showed up at New York City’s Trader Joe’s at Union Square demanding that the grocery store chain stop carrying meat from animals raised on antibiotics. The protest is part of the Consumers Union’s Meat Without Drugs campaign. The Consumers Union group caught attention of passers-by with a member in a giant pig costume. Consumerist reports that the giant pig’s name was Joe and he who begged “the company to get him off drugs.” The group also handed out reusable shopping bags with the message “Hey, Trader Joe’s, Get Joe Off Drugs” emblazoned on the side. The group delivered a petition with 557,772 signatures the NYC store because the company refused to meet with them.
The Meat Without Drugs campaign chose Trader Joe’s to target because it is “one of the most progressive national retailers,” according to the campaign’s website. Trader Joe’s does not sell products with GMOs, artificial colors or trans fats, the campaign points out, demonstrating that they “care for their customers’ health.” The campaign believes that “Trader Joe’s can also be a leader by helping move the livestock industry in the right direction.”
According to Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, over 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on farm animals, “most of which aren’t even sick.” The widespread use of antibiotics on livestock is “promoting drug resistant superbugs that are showing up on our food and spreading to our communities,” Halloran said. “We are calling on Trader Joe’s to help end a meat production practice that is a serious danger to public health.”
The advocacy group MomsRising is part of the campaign. “Knowing that antibiotics will protect our families when we need them is priceless,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, cofounder and executive director of MomsRising. “Trader Joe’s can be a real leader on this critical public health issue.”
Consumer Reports found wide disparities in meat and poultry selections
Last spring, Consumer Reports sent 36 secret shoppers into 136 grocery stores in 23 states to conduct research on meat and poultry from livestock not given antibiotics. The shoppers found that Whole Foods never sells meat and poultry treated with antibiotics. Some chains have “wide selections” of meat and poultry raised without antibiotics, including Giant, Hannaford, Shaw’s, and Stop & Shop, the shoppers discovered. However, the shoppers also discovered that other chains did not have any meat or poultry not raised on antibiotics. These included Sam’s Club, Food 4 Less, Food Lion and Save-A-Lot.
Meat and poultry not raised on antibiotics is not always more money. The shoppers found chicken breasts raised without antibiotics at QFC for $2.99 a pound, and in March the national average price for chicken breasts was $3.17 a pound. During the same time period, the shoppers found chicken breasts on sale at Whole Foods for $1.99 a pound.
Photo: Flickr user, goodiesfirst