Most of the antibiotics sold in the United States aren’t used to treat sick people. More than half—some estimates go as high as 80 percent—are routinely given to chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cattle to make them grow faster and to prevent disease.
That exposes more bacteria to more antibiotics, which means that more bugs will become resistant to those drugs.
At least 440,000 Americans are sickened each year after eating or handling food that’s tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least 2,000 die from their infections.
After years of prodding by health advocates, some large meat and poultry producers and restaurant chains are doing—or promising to do—something about that.
A consortium of five public-interest groups has graded the top 25 fast food and fast casual restaurant chains in the United States on whether they are phasing out routine use of antibiotics in some or all of the meat and poultry they serve. The groups conducted a similar survey in 2015.
How do your favorite restaurants rate in the newer survey?
Panera and Chipotle led all others with a grade of A.
These two restaurants limit the routine use of antibiotics across all the meat and poultry they serve.
Following them with B grades were Subway and Chick-fil-A.
Subway is the only restaurant chain to adopt a new no-antibiotics policy that applies to all types of meat it serves and jumped from an “F” grade last year. Chick-fil-A says it has converted more than 23 percent of its chicken supply to chicken raised entirely without antibiotics. But the company does not do the same for the pork it sells.
In the middle are McDonald’s with a C+, Wendy’s C, Taco Bell C-, Pizza Hut D+, and Papa John’s D.
Down at the bottom of the list with grades of F: IHOP, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and 11 other chains.
These “F” restaurants either have policies that allow for the continued, routine use of antibiotics in the production of the meat and poultry they serve or they do not publicly disclose their policies on antibiotic use in their meat and poultry. (Nowadays, companies that do have such policies usually publicize them.)
The five public interest groups who organized the survey and issued the “Chain Reaction II” report are Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Food Safety, and FACT (Food Animals Concerns Trust).
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