Farmers Frustrated with Subway’s Move To Antibiotic-free Meat

JETMORE, Kansas – Some Kansas ranchers contacted KSN about something affecting their livelihood.

They’re upset with Subway after the restaurant chain announced it’s switching to antibiotic-free meats.

The restaurant is responding to advocacy groups that asked for the change.

Subway will start with chicken, then turkey and eventually, add pork and beef over the next six years or so.

The concern for Kansas ranchers…

“We have a lot of mouths to feed and we have safe food in place to do that,” said Rhonda Stithem.

Rhonda Stithem and her husband Jerry are cattle ranchers in Hodgeman County.

They sometimes use antibiotics in their cattle if one falls ill.

“Not every animal needs it, so it’s just used sparingly and with the guidance of a licensed veterinarian,” Stithem said.

Many ranchers are weighing in on the issue after Subway decided to move towards antibiotic-free meat.

The concern is that the overuse of antibiotics could lead to drug resistance, affecting public health.

But the Stithems believe most ranchers are using antibiotics responsibly.

“We are already keeping antibiotics out of food,” said Teresa Brandenburg, who farms with her husband Luke in Russell County.

“They’re limiting our ability to take care of those animals while still producing a product that’s wholesome and readily available to everyone,” Brandenburg said.

We reached out to Subway, but they didn’t return our requests for comment.

In a statement on their website, Subway said, “We are committed to providing our customers with safe, affordable, and sustainable food.”

Ranchers we talked to say they’re working hard to remain transparent in how they farm their products.

“A lot of consumers are three or four generations at least removed from a farm and it’s hard to understand something that takes such daily care,” said Brandenburg.

Some other restaurants that are already antibiotic-free or headed in that direction are Chipotle, Panera Brea, Chick-Fil-A, and McDonald’s announced a similar move earlier this spring.

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