Meat on Drugs


A majority of Americans want their supermarkets to sell antibiotic-free meat, according to a new national poll conducted by Consumer Reports. The poll is included in a report, “Meat On Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” released today  at

Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, is using the report to support a new advocacy campaign urging supermarkets to sell only meat raised without antibiotics. The organization’s first stop is Trader Joe’s, considered to be a likely candidate to make that type of switch. Meanwhile, the group sent a letter to USDA asking the agency to tighten labeling standards for meat raised without antibiotics.

As part of its “Meat Without Drugs” campaign, the union sent shoppers to 136 supermarkets in 23 states, including at least five stores belonging to each of the 13 largest (by sales) supermarket chains in the nation and collected data on more than 1,100 different “no antibiotics” poultry and meat items. They found wide differences among stores from Whole Foods, where all poultry and meat sold is raised without antibiotics, to Sam’s Club, Food 4 Less, Food Lion and Save-A-Lot, where they couldn’t find such products.

The poll found that 86 percent of consumers indicated that antibiotic-free meat should be available in their local supermarket; more than 60 percent said they’d be willing to pay at least 5 cents per pound more for such product; more than a third (37 percent) would pay a dollar or more extra per pound; the majority (72 percent) was extremely or very concerned about overuse of antibiotics in animal feed, including the potential to create antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”; and more than 60 percent were as concerned with overuse of antibiotics in animal feed on farms raising animals in crowded conditions. 

The poll involved a nationally representative telephone survey about antibiotics in meat products in March 2012. The poll surveyed 1,000 U.S. residents 18 and older. The margin of error is plus/minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.