The Wendy Company: Request for Report on Prohibiting Non-therapeutic Use of Antibiotics in Livestock

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Whereas: The World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology have reported that antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis that threatens to overturn many of the medical advances made over the last century. 

Antibiotic-resistant infections cause over 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the U.S., with a cost to society of $55 to $70 billion. Estimates indicate these infections will kill 10 million people a year worldwide by 2050. (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance). 

A major factor of antibiotic resistance is the overuse and misuse of these lifesaving drugs in meat production. In 2011, livestock consumed 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).  

Antibiotics are often fed to livestock to increase the rate at which animals gain weight, or to prevent illness caused by unhealthy conditions on farms, rather than to treat illness.  

A 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that antibiotic use in agriculture could be reduced without significant costs to producers, and that practices such as increased sanitation and vaccination could be substituted for antibiotics. (“The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture Scale, Efficiency, and Risks”).   

Wendy’s Antibiotic Use Policy prohibits the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion. However, Wendy’s has not yet committed to prohibiting the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in its supply chain, a step that is necessary to protect public health from antibiotic-resistant infections.  

Many of Wendy’s competitors have taken stronger action on antibiotics. Subway has committed to serving only meat raised without antibiotics – chicken by March 2016, turkey in 2-3 years, and beef and pork by 2025. McDonald’s has committed to phase out antibiotics that are critically important for human medicine used for any purpose in their poultry supply chains by 2016. Tyson Foods will phase out all antibiotics used in human medicine by 2017. Perdue Farms has committed to antibiotic-free chicken hatcheries. Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill prohibit routine antibiotic use in their livestock supply chains.  

Resolved: Shareholders request that the company adopt a policy to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in the meat supply chain (including for poultry, beef, and pork). 

 “Non-therapeutic use” of antibiotics is defined as: 

  • (i) administration of antibiotics to an animal through feed and water (or, in poultry hatcheries, through any means) for purposes (such as growth promotion, feed efficiency, weight gain, or disease prevention) other than therapeutic use or non-routine disease control; and includes 

  • (ii) any repeated or regular pattern of use of antimicrobials for purposes other than therapeutic use or non-routine disease control. 

Shareholders request that the Board report to shareowners within six months of the annual meeting, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on the timetable and measures for implementing this policy.  

Resolution Details

Company: The Wendy Company

Lead Filer: 
As You Sow

Year: 2016

Filing Date: 
March 2016

Initiative(s): Antibiotics and Factory Farms

Status: Withdrawn; Company will address

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