Subway revises their antibiotic statement

Subway heard from agriculture. And I was one of them. I went to my local Subway restaurant on Thursday and spoke to the two managers on duty. I think I shocked them a little bit as neither one of them had heard about Subway’s announcement  last Tuesday of sourcing meat never given an antibiotic starting in 2016. I left them a letter to send up to their corporate manager and gave them an opportunity to come visit our ranch or contact  me if they wanted to have more of a conversation about this or other food-related issues.

After their initial announcement, Subway issued a revised statement on Friday. The bold portion is the additional language that appears in the revised statement:

“Our goal is to reduce and eliminate the use of antibiotics in the food we serve. Elimination of antibiotics use in our supply chain will take time, but we are working diligently with our suppliers to find quality solutions that also ensure our high quality and food safety standards are upheld and not compromised in any way. Our plan is to eliminate the use of antibiotics in phases with the initial focus on the poultry products that we serve in the U.S. We are in the process of transitioning to chicken products made from chicken raised without antibiotics and expect this transition to be completed by the end of 2016. In addition, turkey products made from turkey raised without antibiotics will be introduced in 2016. The transition is expected to take 2-3 years. Supply of pork and beef products from animals raised without antibiotics in the U.S. is extremely limited. We expect our transition to take place by 2025. That said, we recognize that antibiotics are critical tools for keeping animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve their effectiveness in veterinary and human medicine. Our policy is that antibiotics can be used to treat, control and prevent disease, but not for growth promotion of farm animals. Accordingly, we are asking our suppliers to do the following:
  • Adopt, implement and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) guidance for industry 209 and 213, which requires that medically important antibiotics not be used for growth promotion. Visit the FDA site to learn more.
  • Assure that all antibiotics use is overseen, pre-approved and authorized by a licensed veterinarian before they are administered to any animal.
  • Keep accurate and complete records to track use of all antibiotics.
  • Adhere at all times to all legal requirements governing antibiotic withdrawal times. This assures that antibiotics have been eliminated from the animals’ systems at the time of slaughter.
  • Actively encourage, support and participate in research efforts focused on improving animal health while reducing antibiotics use.”
I join others in agriculture, like Anne from Feedyard Foodie and Joan from Dust In My Coffee, in applauding the upper management of Subway for recognizing the value antibiotics play in the care of animals. It is also refreshing to know that our efforts in joining together for the commitment of continuous improvement of the care of animals are showing merited results. 

Subway has not changed their home page as of the writing of this blog and the statement is not very easy to find. I agree with Joan that my applause will be hard to hear until the public at large can see that statement as part of their infographic

Let’s continue the discussion and conversations together with our food retailers and challenge them to work with us as we also continue to improve our production processes and animal care standards. 

5 thoughts on “Subway revises their antibiotic statement

  1. I visited with a worker at our local Subway about this.
    Before we went in I told my husband It might be the last time we ate there because of this issue.
    He was not in the loop about what was happening.
    I politely explained to the woman who was the shift manager that the word needs to come from the restaurants in rural areas that farmers and ranchers will not support Subway if Subway throws them under the bus.
    She knew something about the policy and promised to check it out.
    While I am happy that they have made some changes to this policy I would like to see a big announcement along the lines of "We are embarrassed to realize that animal carcasses are tested for antibiotics and meat with residue is not allowed into the food chain. We realize we have mistakenly given consumers an incorrect impression of production agriculture because animals with antibiotic residue would not be marketable, therefore the producers would go out of business. We give a tip of the hat to the true experts in sustainable agriculture, the much maligned American farmer. We know how to run restaurants, they know how to produce food. This was a futile attempt to jump on a popular trend which we are chagrined to admit has no basis in science!"
    One final thought: Does Subway have gluten free offerings? Was this perhaps a ploy to distract the "foodies" into forgetting about gluten when they considered where to dine?

  2. I hope this changes for beef and pork also…. mainly beef…. Its a very rich source of proteins, and whenever i want to have a hamburger i am quite worried like what will the stature of the beef i am eating… if the beef is the meat of a cow that was stuffed with antibiotics i guess i would never eat hamburgers again….. I mean i am supposed to consume beef not "BEEF STUFFED WITH ANTIBIOTIC" … Its high time
    dairy farming changed its stance about using antibiotics for cows….

  3. Hello and thanks for your comment on my blog, I am a Director! You should know that the rules for dairy farming is the same for beef. IF the cows are given an antibiotic (and never are they "stuffed" with them) because they are sick, they much wait the required withdrawal period before being sold to market. Their milk is also not used that this time. We have the safest food supply in the world and you can be assured that all of the meat you eat is antibiotic-free regardless!!

  4. Hi Nancy and thanks for your comment! I agree with you that even though Subway revised their policy, never (to my knowledge) did they apologize or even come back saying the reason they made this decision in the first place. Which I'm sure is fear-marketing from activists or like you said a distraction ploy. Thanks for visiting with your local Subway. I think more boots on the ground efforts from agriculture is what it is going to take to reach corporate retail food businesses and industry groups who are trying to sabotage agriculture.

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