10 March 2016
Bangkok – The Independent Organization for Consumer Protection committee, Foundation for Consumers, Thai Drug Watch, Health Consumer Protection Program, and the network of consumer organizations invite consumers to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March 2016 at Amari Donmuang Airport, Bangkok.
Saree Aongsomwang, Secretary General of Foundation for Consumers – a member of Consumers International – said this year consumers worldwide including Thailand are campaigning for fast food companies’ clear policy on the sourcing of meat without antibiotics. According to data from Consumers International, McDonald which operates in 100 countries worldwide has only committed to buying chicken raised without routine use of antibiotics in two countries: USA and Canada, by 2017 and 2018 respectively. Meanwhile, Subway with its operations in 111 countries has only committed to sourcing chicken, turkey, beef and pork raised without antibiotics for its branches in America by the year 2016, 2019, and 2025. KFC, however, has not shown any commitment on the issue.
“These three companies have more than 100,000 branches around the world. They can have huge influence on animal meat suppliers, demanding changes in the use of antibiotics in agriculture”, said the Secretary General.
Dr.Niyada Kiadyingangsulee, President of Thai Drug Watch – said drug resistance has caused health crisis worldwide. The majority of this is caused by overuse of antibiotics in husbandry. The use of antibiotics in agriculture is expected to rise from 63,200 tons per year in 2010 to 105,600 tons in 2030. If this issue is not dealt with immediately, we may encounter a situation where people can be killed by common infections or minor injuries. “Each year 38,000 Thais die from drug resistance, causing a loss of more than 40,000 million baht. The situation is worrisome. On average, one-hundred Thais die from antibiotics-resistant bacteria everyday, higher than the global average. Thai people are at risk of infections from drug-resistant bacteria from several sources. To foster reasonable use of antibiotics, it takes participation from several organisations such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), the Ministry of Agriculture, etc. Medical practitioners as well as the general public also need to take part in this by recognizing reasonable drug use.
Supaporn Thinwattanakul, committee member of the Commission of Independent Organization for Consumer Protection, said the committee and the network of consumer organizations have submitted letters to KFC, Subway, Sizzlers, McDonald, and Chester Grills in Thailand to ask them to stop using meat contaminated with antibiotics. The letter asks each company to verify the source of animal meat to be used in their food products, urges the companies to have a concrete plan to reduce and stop the use of meat from animals fed with unnecessary antibiotics in order to guarantee access to healthy food for consumers, and requests an opportunity for inspection and public report every three month by independent academics.
On this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, the network of consumer organizations will hold its first National Consumer Council to provide a mechanism for consumers to monitor the enforcement of laws related to consumer protection and urge for an independent organization for consumer protection to be included in the new draft constitution. The independent organization will provide advice and support to state agencies in matters related to consumer protection as well as provide consumers with information and access to justice.
Members of the network of consumer organizations have shown their support for the campaign by holding the sign #AntibioticsOffTheMenu in front of fast food restaurants. You can do the same and post your photos on facebook with the hash tag #AntibioticsOffTheMenu or visit www.change.org to register your support.
By Sasiwan Parinyart and Smart Sarovat, Foundation for Consumers (FFC)