Consumer group's campaign for Trader Joe's to go antibiotic-free comes to Boise

adutton@idahostatesman.comFebruary 25, 2014 

Trader Joe's will open its first Idaho store at the end of February in Downtown Boise.

Consumers Union has long urged Trader Joe's to stop selling meat from animals raised with antibiotics. The group, an advocacy and policy arm of Consumer Reports, took its campaign to Idaho this week, ahead of Friday's opening of a Trader Joe's in Downtown Boise.

Consumers Union took out a full-page advertisement in the Idaho Statesman this week, calling on Trader Joe's to "be an industry leader and stop selling meat from animals raised on antibiotics."

The advertisement says 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on farm animals, including healthy ones, which contributes to making those drugs less powerful in treating infections. That issue last year prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to create a "road map" to phase out the use of certain drugs on farm animals.

"We understand the importance of our customers' decisions when it comes to their grocery shopping and do not presume to make choices for them; we work hard to offer products we think fit our customers' needs — covering a range of considerations," Trader Joe's said in a statement emailed to the Idaho Statesman. "As is made plain by the offerings in our stores, we are interested in making available to our customers products made with meat and poultry raised without the use of antibiotics," including some beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and pork items.

Consumers Union says Trader Joe's gets 80 percent of its products from private labels, giving it more control over its supply chain than most grocers have.

This is the second time this month Consumers Union made a public plea to Trader Joe's as the California-based retailer prepares to open a new store in the Intermountain region.

"We need to stop wasting these critical medications on healthy livestock," Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, said in a news release.

Some national companies such as Whole Foods and Chipotle, and some local businesses such as the Boise Co-Op and Meats Royale butcher shop in Boise, have committed to stop selling meat raised with antibiotics, the group said.

The news release noted Amanda Buchanan, a Weiser resident, posted a petition on Change.org asking Trader Joe's to stop selling that meat.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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