Are There Too Many Antibiotics In Your Fast Food?


You may want to think twice before you grab that burger. Some of the most popular restaurants and fast food chains are misusing antibiotics in their food, according to a new report.

A collaborative report called Chain Reaction II, co-authored by six nonprofit activist organizations, ranked the 25 largest U.S. fast food chains on their policies on antibiotics.

Only two eateries, Panera and Chipotle, received an A grade.

The purpose of the report, according to the authors, is to warn consumers about the overuse of antibiotics in poultry and livestock, which are used “to make them grow faster in unsanitary, crowded and stressful conditions.” The report also seeks to “encourage companies to adopt good policies that prohibit routine antibiotic use for growth promotion or disease prevention across all the meats they serve.”

The practice of adding antibiotics to food has horrible long-term health effects for humans, according to the report.

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“This misuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance — the ability of bacteria to withstand exposure to an antibiotic,” the report says. “Antibiotic resistance makes treatment of bacterial infections harder, increases how long people are sick, and make it more likely that patients will die. Curbing the misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry is a public health imperative.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization estimate that 23,000 people die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections. At least two million Americans contract those types of infections annually.

Breaking Down the Grades

For the second straight year, Panera and Chipotle earned an A grade because 91% of the meat and poultry served this year will be raised without antibiotics. And according to the report, “they currently offer an array of meat options produced without the routine use of antibiotics, including pork and beef.”

Subway was one of the most improved restaurants, jumping from an F to a B, because it adopted a new antibiotic policy that applies to all the meat it serves.

Chick-fil-A held steady with a B because it converted 23 percent of its chicken supply to chicken raised without antibiotics.

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McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell all earned a C for offering 50 percent or less of antibiotic meat choices.

Pizza Hut and Papa John’s earned D grades for having good antibiotic policies on chicken but only applying them to a small fraction of chicken purchases.

The report gave 16 of the top 25 food chains an F grade because they “have taken no action to reduce their use of antibiotics in their supply chains.” Those chains were Starbucks, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, IHOP, Chili’s, Domino’s, Little Caesars, Denny’s, KFC, Jack In The Box, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Dunkin’ Donuts.