UPDATE: Scientists give 11 restaurant chains a failing grade for this
By Jacob Passy
Antibiotic use in livestock has been linked by scientists to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance
The fast-food industry is making progress when it comes to serving poultry and meat products from suppliers that don't feed their livestock antibiotics -- but there's still significant room for improvement.
Fourteen of the 25 largest fast-food chains received a passing grade (http://consumersunion.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ChainReaction3_Report_final.pdf) on a scorecard put together by public interest organizations including Consumers Union (the policy division of Consumer Reports), the Center for Food Safety and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others. That figure is up from nine companies last year and five in 2015.
Scientists -- including ones from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- have linked antibiotic use in livestock with the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Roughly two million people in the U.S. each year contract infections that are resistant to antibiotics, and 23,000 die from those infections, according to data from the CDC. Historically, farmers fed antibiotics to livestock to make them gain weight faster and to combat the unsanitary conditions on many factory farms. "Curbing antibiotic use in livestock production is critical to keeping our lifesaving antibiotics working," the report said.
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The report was compiled using the results of a survey distributed among the 25 largest fast-food chains and publicly available information about where the restaurants source their ingredients. Restaurants were judged by how much of the meat and poultry they served came from a supplier with a good antibiotics use policy and their timelines for reducing the use of livestock treated with antibiotics. The best chains had policies in place that antibiotics couldn't be used at any stage in animals' lives -- whereas weaker guidelines might allow for antibiotic use if the medicine isn't important for humans or if its only used when animals are sick.
Grade Restaurant A ChipotlePanera Bread B+ Subway B Chick-fil-A B- KFCTaco Bell C+ McDonald's C Wendy's D+ Pizza HutStarbucks D Burger KingDunkin' DonutsJack in the BoxPapa John's F Applebee'sArby'sBuffalo Wild WingsChili'sCracker BarrelDairy QueenDomino's PizzaIHOPLittle CaesarsOlive GardenSonic
For the second year in a row, Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) and Panera Bread were the only restaurants to receive "A" grades in the scorecard, as they were the only chains to have fully implemented policies that prohibit or limit antibiotics use among their meat and poultry suppliers. "Doctors, public health officials and other experts agree that there is a growing risk of antibiotic-resistant infection, and the overuse of antibiotics in meat production is a significant part of that problem," a spokesman for Chipotle said in an email. "Good animal husbandry reduces the need for antibiotics in livestock and promotes better animal welfare, and that is the path we have chosen."