Which of the nation’s top 25 fast food chains are doing the best job of prohibiting the routine use of antibiotics in the meat and poultry they serve? And why should you care?
Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill are leading the pack with “A” grades, according to the second annual Chain Reaction report and scorecard, released today by a group of consumer, environmental and health organizations.
Drug-resistant infections are a growing problem. Conservatively, at least 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Seven other restaurants earned passing grades. They are Subway, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s Pizza.
Today’s report, Chain Reaction II: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Use of Antibiotics in Their Meat Supply, is being released amidst a public outcry from consumers and shareholders urging chains like KFC, Olive Garden and In N Out Burger to adopt policies prohibiting the routine use of antibiotics in the meat and poultry they serve, the groups said.
The results from Chain Reaction II come one day before a high-profile meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance, a major global health crisis caused by the misuse of antibiotics by the medical community and livestock industry.
Other Chain Reaction II highlights include:
- Nine of the surveyed companies — twice as many as last year — received passing grades, largely due to their transition to chicken raised without antibiotics or chicken raised without medically-important antibiotics. Barracuda Loafers - Women on Barracuda Loafers online Loafers on YOOX Women United Kingdom - 11306612JU 12a9ba0
- The restaurant chains surveyed this year made little progress on beef or pork.
- Five companies with strong chicken policies received grades ranging from B to C- (Subway, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell.)
- McDonald’s earned an improved grade of “C+” this year, after completing its 2015 commitment to end the use of medically-important antibiotics in its domestic chicken supply — with 100% of the chicken at its 14,000 U.S. locations meeting this standard. But the company has yet to take action on beef or pork.
- Subway improved the most, leaping from an “F” in 2015 to a “B” in 2016. Last fall, under pressure from the coalition and consumers, the chain committed to ending the use of antibiotics across its entire meat and poultry supply by 2025. Very few other chains—and none at this scale—have taken such a strong stance. Implementation of new policies for chicken began this year, but not turkey, pork or beef.
- Dunkin’ Donuts was the only company to be downgraded to an “F” this year after weakening its publicly stated antibiotic policy.
- The following chains also received an “F,” either for having no disclosed antibiotics use policy or for having policies that allow for the continued routine use of antibiotics in the production of the meat and poultry they serve: Applebee’s, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King, Chili’s, Dairy Queen, Denny’s, Domino’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, IHOP, Jack in the Box, KFC, Little Caesars, Olive Garden, Sonic and Starbucks.
Research for the Chain Reaction II report, including the survey of the top 25 U.S. restaurant chains, was compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council,Food Animal Concerns Trust, Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union and Center for Food Safety.
“This year’s scorecard shows positive signs of change in the fast food industry,” said Sasha Stashwick, Sr. Advocate for Food & Agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But amid the steady drumbeat of company after company acting to end routine antibiotics use in their chicken supplies, chicken giant KFC now stands out as a major laggard. Despite receiving a call to action last month from over 350,000 concerned consumers, the company is still failing to do its part to protect people from superbugs.”