School Lunch Program: Remove Risk of SuperBugs from Children’s Lunches
Our teenage son, Sam, got seriously ill from eating chicken contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria. He lost 30 pounds and a month of high school. Doctors were perplexed. Antibiotics weren’t working. It turns out he was infected with a 'Superbug;' a strain of a food-borne bacteria that was resistant to antibiotics. I don't want something like this to happen to other children, so I need your help.
The experience prompted my family to look into where our food comes from and how this could happen. What we found left us feeling vulnerable. Today, most meat and poultry animals are raised in crowded, filthy confined conditions and fed antibiotics every single day. These drugs prevent animals that live in these inhumane conditions from getting sick, and also make animals grow faster than they would naturally.
The problem is, the more these drugs are fed to livestock the less effective they become for us humans. Our food system is breeding Superbugs that cannot be stopped by regular antibiotics - antibiotics that should save human lives. Currently, about 70% of the antibiotics in this country go to healthy food animals. Most antibiotics that are fed to animals are the same drugs used to treat sick people. So when Sam ate chicken contaminated with a Superbug strain of bacteria, antibiotics failed. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs) kill more Americans every year than AIDS.
Recently The New York Times wrote an editorial on drugs used in livestock in which it said the "rise of antibiotic-resistant genes poses a potential worldwide human health risk." The American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and American Academy of Pediatrics have also come out against the overuse of antibiotics in animals raised for meat.
While my family and I explored the horrors of the food system, we realized that we are not powerless. We discovered many amazing people who inspire us with creative and innovative ways that they are revolutionizing our food system. We call them “Food Patriots” and that's the title of the film we are making about our journey. Our biggest realization from this experience is that as consumers, we have the power to influence how our food is produced. Companies get alarmed when they lose market share. We can pressure them to make improvements by buying meat and poultry raised without antibiotics.
The USDA manages the National School Lunch Program which feeds millions of kids everyday, and they should take action on this immediately. It’s doable! For example, Chicago Public Schools made a massive purchase of chicken raised without antibiotics last year and it has been a very successful program. Please sign to support this common sense solution to a problem that's putting our nation's health in danger.
Thankfully, Sam made a full recovery. But another child might not have been so lucky. We know for a fact that children are among the most vulnerable to these illnesses because their immune systems are still developing.
In addition to purchasing antibiotic free meats for schools, the US government should be putting a stop to the misuse of antibiotics in livestock. Please sign and share, so we can hear all your comments from students, teachers, parents, and other consumers who demand safer food for everyone.
- National School Lunch Program
- Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Contracting Branch Chief
- Operations Branch Chief
- Acting Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist
- Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
- Under Secretary for Food Safety
Dr. Elisabeth A. Hagen
- Director Web Based Supply Chain Management
Remove Risk of Superbugs from Children's Lunches
The USDA and National School Lunch Program have an obligation to support healthy, safe food and proper animal welfare standards.
The overuse of antibiotics for industrial animal agriculture has led to the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans. Currently, about 70% of all antibiotics in this country go to healthy food animals, and this is an opportunity for you to hear Americans' voices and act responsibly.
We need the National School Lunch Program to help make school lunches safer and protect the nation's health. Don't purchase meat and poultry products from industrial farms that misuse and overuse antibiotics and feed it to our nation's children.
Please hear our concerns, read the widespread reports of why this is a threat to the public and to animal welfare, and take action immediately.
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