New scorecard ranks popular restaurants on their policies for antibiotic use in the meat and poultry supply chain.
Americans spend nearly half of their money devoted to food on meals outside the home, which means that restaurants have substantial influence over the ingredients we eat and how they are produced, particularly meat.
One of the biggest problems with meat production (aside from the obvious ethical question of raising animals for human consumption) is the regular use of antibiotics in disease prevention. When animals are fed low levels of antibiotics day after day, it kills off the weak germs and leaves behind the tough “superbugs” that can multiply, escape the farm, and spread into our communities. The more drug-resistant bacteria proliferate around us, the less effective our human medications become.
“Each year, at least two million Americans contact antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 die as a result.” Tragically, much of it is unnecessary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe.”
In order to draw attention to the very serious problem of antibiotic overuse in meat production, a group of concerned organizations has created a new scorecard to rate popular fast food restaurants in the United States on their commitment to eliminate or minimize antibiotic use in their supply chains.
The first-ever annual scorecard was released last week and found only two restaurants – Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill – that report “serving a majority of their meat from animals raised without the routine use of antibiotics.”
Dunkin’ Donuts, Chick-Fil-A, and McDonalds all have policies to limit antibiotic use, but these policies “range from strict prohibitions on any antibiotic use (Chick-Fil-A), to policies that prohibit use in chicken of antibiotics important to human health (McDonalds).” Note: Chick-Fil-A’s goal for 100 percent antibiotic-free meat is set for 2019.
Starbucks, the trendy darling of the coffee-drinking world, has no policy prohibiting routine antibiotic use in meat and poultry production, despite making “positive statements” about its intentions.
Failing grades were given to Burger King, Wendy’s, Olive Garden, KFC, Chili’s, Sonic, Denny’s, Domino’s, Starbucks, Papa John’s Pizza, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Applebee’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse, and Little Caesars. These restaurants have no disclosed policies on antibiotics use, or have policies that allow for the continuation of antibiotics use in meat and poultry production.
You can read the full report here.