Yesterday, Subway restaurants’ announcement that they would be sourcing meat that has never been given an antibiotic starting in 2016 brought with it a fiery social media battle of farmers and ranchers trying to post their opinions and comments on the Subway Facebook page, with Subway deleting comments and upsetting people even more.

The decision is frustrating for those of us who raise livestock for meat and know what we really do to raise healthy food. Especially Nebraskans where livestock production is very prominent! Fear marketing is more and more present in our retail food chains and this is evident with Subway’s decision. Did they do their research? Did they talk to farmers and ranchers? Did they talk to USDA and FDA? If they would have talked me, or any farmer and rancher raising meat, here is what they would have found out:

  • Livestock get sick, too. 

Livestock must be healthy and well-cared for in order to produce great, quality meat. And just one of the ways that farmers and rancher keep their animals healthy is by using antibiotics.

A list for Subway: Why animals given antibiotics really do provide antibiotic-free meat 
  • We don’t just use antibiotics to use them. 

On our ranch, we have a herd health program where the livestock get regular medical care, including checkups, that starts with vaccinations to prevent disease (much like a well-child checkup for kids). But sometimes animals get sick, just like we do and it’s necessary to treat them. So we give antibiotics if an animal is injured or to fight a bacterial infection. This is the most common and prevalent use of antibiotics in livestock.

A list for Subway: Why animals given antibiotics really do provide antibiotic-free meat
  • We work with a veterinarian. 

Under the care of our veterinarian, we closely follow the label and dosing instructions which are approved by the FDA. The FDA’s approval process is stringent and they use the same testing for antibiotics in animals as they do for humans.

  • Antibiotics leave the animal’s system. (this one is the most important!)

Any antibiotic given to a food animal has a specified withdrawal time which is the amount of time from the last shot until it is out of their system. The maximum length of any antibiotic is 28 days and we will never sell that animal to go into the food system until that 28 days (or specified time) is up – it’s the law and we take that very seriously! So the FDA assures us that is no antibiotic residue in our meat as well as the USDA randomly inspects meat to make sure it is safe.

When the withdrawal time is up – the antibiotics have left the animal’s system. This means that the animal is ANTIBIOTIC-FREE, which equals = ALL MEAT IS ANTIBIOTIC-FREE BY LAW!

A list for Subway: Why animals given antibiotics really do provide antibiotic-free meat 
  •  We take animal care very seriously.
I’m a mom, and I want my son to stay well all of the time. But he doesn’t so sometimes we have to give him something to help him feel better. We do the same thing for our cattle, which means doing the right thing by closely monitoring the care we give our animals. We want to continue to earn the respect and trust we have with our meat buyers and meat eaters and we want healthy animals to provide healthy, safe and nutritious beef.

Our family depends on healthy cattle for our livelihoods. We care for our livestock by giving them a good diet, good medical care and healthy living conditions. Our commitment to providing top-notch meat begins with top-notch animal care. 

A list for Subway: Why animals given antibiotics really do provide antibiotic-free meat

Unfortunately, Subway is not the first – nor the last – to give in to fear marketing and change the food they are providing based on the consumer’s opinion. It’s important for you – whether you raise livestock or just enjoy eating – to know where and how your food was raised; farmers and ranchers want to be transparent and help you know how food is raised. It’s also important to communicate to food retailers about how issues like this can affect you or just livestock producers in your area where the economy could greatly be affected.

As a mom and rancher, I’m hoping this opens up conversation about how food is raised and I’m always available to answer questions that you might have about food and farming. I had the opportunity to be on Lifetime’s The Balancing Act show recently sharing about why we use antibiotics on our ranch and how our food is safe, take a look:

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Kelsey Pope

I’m an ag gal born & raised in agriculture in Colorado, ag-educated at Kansas State, worked for agriculture in Nebraska, and am now back on the family cattle ranch. I'm also a mama to a ball-of-fire little boy who allows me to work from home and play with everyday. I’m an advocate for livestock and food production, married to a wonderful beef guy, enjoy runs with my cow dog, Hank, and love crafts, quilting, writing, decaf coffee, traveling and time with my family. I blog about agriculture and life on the ranch at and blog about life, being a mama and one of my favorite stress relievers - quilting & sewing! at