UConnPIRG's national Antibiotics Day of Action event on Thursday, Oct. 22 ultimately became a celebration when Subway announced its plans to no longer offer meat raised with antibiotics.
Instead of continuing with their petition of signatures, students at the University of Connecticut hosted one of 50 events across the country, thanking Subway for committing to serve meat raised without antibiotics, according to a statement made by UConnPIRG. Students also plan to now call on other restaurants and grocery stores to follow suit.
"We're ecstatic that Subway will be living up to the healthy image they've created. They have more restaurants in the U.S. than any other chain, and their announcement will put major market pressure on the meat producers to stop overusing antibiotics," according to the statement. "We were set to deliver over 300,000 petitions to Subway headquarters on Thursday, much of it from staff and volunteers who had blanketed neighborhoods around the country since early this summer, but it now looks like we'll deliver a giant 'thank you' card instead."
Abby Katz, Save the Antibiotics campaign coordinator and first semester marine science major, said that they originally aimed to collect 5,000 student signatures on a cardboard sub and deliver it to Subway's corporate headquarters in Milford, CT on Thursday.
The group also planned to collect 450 photo petitions to post to social media sites, tagging Subway so that they could see student support for a nation-wide change.
"There are PIRG chapters across the country, all of which have been working tirelessly on this campaign. Our collective efforts on social media definitely pushed Subway towards going antibiotic-free because it showed the largest fast food chain in the world that their customers truly wanted change," Katz said. "The exact decision was released in anticipation of a nationwide petition drop at Subway headquarters by PIRG chapters including over 270,000 signatures total."
Katz said that she was simply in shock after hearing about their campaign victory.
"It seemed completely crazy that the world’s largest fast food chain would go antibiotic-free in half the time it took to get McDonald’s to agree to phase out chicken raised with antibiotics," Katz said. "I suppose that this movement is just beginning to gain momentum! The question now is, 'Who’s next?'"
Subway assistant manager Stefon Danczuk said that he thinks that the change will go into effect in November, as they usually begin new modifications at the beginning of every month.
Danczuk also said that he isn’t sure how to feel about Subway’s new plans for their meat.
“I have heard both sides of the argument; that it’s not good for the animals and also that antibiotics are good for the animals because it helps keep them healthy,” Danczuk said. “But it’s cool that a group of people was able to get a company to do this, so it’s good for that reason.”
Maggie McEvilly is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.