Chipotle CEO Testifies Before Congress to Curb Antibiotic Use in Livestock

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Chipotle, a growing fast food chain with 1,100 locations, is known for its local produce program. But most recently, Chipotle’s CEO Steve Ells has taken on the issue of antibiotic use in livestock.

According to a story in Food Safety News, Ells testified before Congress in favor of a bill to limit sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in American livestock.

"There's huge, huge demand for this," said Ells Tuesday during a congressional briefing sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The only microbiologist in Congress, Slaughter has been fighting for limits on antibiotic use in livestock for several years on the grounds that overuse of these drugs contributes to antibiotic resistance. Around 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States annually are given to food animals.

Sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics means using them for any use other than sickness, including fattening livestock up rapidly or to quell any sickness caused by cruel treatment or unhealthy living standards that could cause them to get sick in the future.

Ells began advocating for limited use of antibiotics after sampling pork carnitas from Niman Ranch, a company that sources its pork from small to medium-sized farms. Niman Ranch’s pork is raised outdoors, never given hormones or antibiotics, and fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet. But even more, Ells noticed how much better his carnitas tasted.

His appearance was meant to raise awareness and support of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA, H.R. 965/S. 1211). The bill, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, would require the FDA to review the approvals of seven classes of antibiotics to ensure that they don’t put human health at risk. The critical bill is meant to combat antibiotic resistant superbugs, which are becoming an increasing problem.

The FDA has been slow to act on the issue, most recently, rejecting two bans of certain antibiotics for use in livestock.

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Tags: Antibiotics | Factory Farming | Food Safety