Stock image via Montana Stockgrowers Association
Stock image via Montana Stockgrowers Association

News that Subway will soon be serving protein from animals never receiving antibiotics hit the waves in a big way this week. The announcement was made following pressure from activist groups, not necessarily customer buying trends. Inflaming this situation was the fact that they continued to delete comments from their social media feeds from individuals who disagreed with their position.

In this situation, the agriculture community spoke up, and shared the news rapidly. It’s a shame we lacked this enthusiasm talking about antibiotics prior to announcements such as this made by Subway and other restaurants. While this is a good opportunity for livestock farmers and ranchers who choose to finish their animals without the use of antibiotics, statements and positions against antibiotics fuel the perception that these tools are harmful in our food supply or that those who choose to use antibiotics to treat illness in animals are doing so irresponsibly.

I’ve had a few reports that Subway is denying requests from agriculture media on the subject of antibiotics use in livestock. They have been answering requests for information via their 800-hotline. Many people have taken to blasting the chain, but I don’t advocate for addressing this with negativity and hateful comments.

How can you get involved in responding to Subway?

  1. Be respectful of the conversations. This does not mean trying to see how many times you can get a comment deleted. Contribute respectfully with productive comments about your experience using antibiotics. Read more about responding to controversy. This includes being respectful of other farmers and ranchers who choose to raise livestock without antibiotics, because it is and can be done.
  2. Visit your local Subway restaurant. Speak with the Owner/Manager. Let them know you are disappointed with the company’s decision to demand farmers and ranchers eliminate all antibiotics use in livestock. Ask if they have any questions about antibiotics and invite them to the farm or ranch to experience raising livestock first-hand.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions about your experience using antibiotics. This isn’t a time to throw out FACTS or be engaged in hateful, dissenting comments. Individual perspectives and personal experience matters when we all care about raising safe food. Walking up to someone and telling them they have their FACTS wrong is a turn off and start of an argument in these situations. Start by listening and making a connection and have your numbers/science in your back pocket when it is asked for. And remember, we always have room for improvement.

Keep sharing your perspectives and experience about raising food. The use of antibiotics is a tool for raising healthy animals that produce safe food. We all have a role in sharing this message. How our neighbors perceive this situation depends on how involved you want to become in answering their questions and addressing their concerns.

Listen to this interview I did with Rural Radio Network ( discussing the Subway announcement.

Related Links:

  1. Are there antibiotics in bacon? –
  2. The loudest voices aren’t always right. Did Subway make the right call? | Mackinson Dairy
  3. Top 5 Things Subway Customers Need To Know
  4. Dear Subway, I really wish you would have talked to a farmer
  5. Disappointed in Subway; Caving into Fear
  6. Subway: Say goodbye to antibiotics and respectful disagreement
  7. Subway Announces That a Bullet Is Their Treatment Of Choice For Sick Animals…
  8. Ruffled Feathers Over Subway