Trader Joe's

Members of the group Consumers Union rallied in front of Trader Joe’s flagship Manhattan store in Union Square earlier this week, protesting the retailer’s sale of antibiotic-laced meat.

The event came about as a result of Trader Joe’s refusal to meet with members of Consumers Union. The protest came with a petition for Trader Joe’s with more than 550,000 signatures requesting the company remove antibiotic-laced meat products from its store.

Sporting a giant costumed pig named “Joe” that interacted with store patrons and passers-by, giving away reusable shopping bags that read “Hey, Trader Joe’s, Get Joe Off Drugs,” the efforts are part of the group’s Meat Without Drugs campaign. Trader Joe’s has been targeted because of its otherwise progressive practices, including restrictions on GMOs, artificial colors and trans fats.

Consumer Reports conducted a secret sting operation last spring, visiting 136 stores in 23 states in order to research the sale of meat and poultry without antibiotics. Among the chains that did not offer their customers antibiotic-free meat options were Sam’s Club, Food 4 Less, Food Lion and Save-A-Lot. The group also noted that the antibiotic-free options were not inherently more expensive, either. During the investigation when chicken breasts prices were at a national average of $3.17 per pound, Whole Foods market was selling antibiotic-free options for $1.99 per pound.

More than 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotic supply is used in livestock animals—with the majority going to non-therapeutic uses including unnatural, accelerated growth. As a result, antibiotic resistance is a growing issue in the U.S. causing untreatable strains of foodborne illnesses as well as antibiotic resistant infections that can pose serious human health risks and require stronger medications with more severe side effects.

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Image: kawanet