UConnPirg launches campaign against Subway's use of antibiotics

A student signs a UConnPirg petition Subway to end its use of products made with livestock raised on antibiotics on Monday, Oct. 13, 2015. (Grant Zito/The Daily Campus)

In an effort to convince fast food restaurant chain Subway to end the use of animals treated with excessive antibiotics, University of Connecticut student organization UConnPirg has launched a nearly weeklong outreach campaign.

From Oct. 12-15, UConnPirg will be collecting signatures for a petition urging Subway to end its use of products made with livestock raised on antibiotics. Students will be able to sign the petition anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Storrs Center. Signatures will also be collected at McMahon and Fairfield Way.

The underlying purpose of the campaign stems from the growing threat posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is only exacerbated by the overuse of antibiotics in factory farms. 

“Seventy percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to livestock, many of which are not even sick,” UConnPirg member and fifth semester Economics major Joshua Spadaro said. “These farms use antibiotics as a prophylactic measure so their animals do not contract serious illnesses due to their close quarters.”

The issue of resistant bacterial strains has been particularly emphasized by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to 2014 estimates, the CDC believes more than 2,000,000 infections and 23,000 US deaths occur annually due to these types of bacteria. 

UConnPirg members believe placing pressure on food distributers can curtail the use of poorly raised factory farm livestock. In turn, this will lead to less antibiotic-treated food reaching consumers. 

“We need to get the restaurants that buy from factory farms to call for change,” Spadaro said.

Earlier in the year, UConnPirg organized a similar petition campaign directed at McDonald’s. The petition ultimately proved to be useful as the popular restaurant chain halted its use of antibiotic raised chicken in March. UConnPirg members hope that through their efforts, and with student wide support, they can push Subway to make a similar move. 

“Subway is all about ‘eating fresh’ and we need them to live up to that motto. But they will not make that change without hearing from their consumers,” UConnPirg antibiotics campaign coordinator and first semester Marine Science major Abby Katz said. 

Through its five day petition drive, UConnPirg members hope to get signatures from about twenty-five percent of the UConn student body. So far, the campaign has been successful in meeting its daily goals. 

“We got 360 signatures today and our goal was 300 so we surpassed our goal!” Katz said. “Students were definitely interested in our campaign and many asked questions about it.”

UConnPirg’s petition drive will feature a thirteen-foot long subway sandwich cutout, which it plans to get students to sign. After the weeklong campaign is over the sandwich will be delivered to Subway’s international headquarters in Milford, Connecticut. 

“We know these tactics will work because we used them last semester to win our campaign to stop the overuse of antibiotics at McDonald’s,” Katz said.


Fatir Qureshi is a staff writer at The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at fatir.qureshi@uconn.edu.