An Annual Scorecard Reveals That Fast Food Chains Aren’t Buying Antibiotic-Free Meat

Senior Contributor
09.28.17 5 Comments


There’s a strong push in America for fast food chains to clean up their act. Fresher, more ethically sourced food is increasingly the key demand for customers, but in one important metric, they’re falling short. It looks like most chains aren’t bothering to buy antibiotic-free meat.

Consumers Union found that just two chains, Chipotle and Panera, were embracing antibiotic-free meat, with Subway, of all chains, close behind. On their scorecard, Taco Bell pulled a B-, McDonald’s a C+, Wendy’s a C, and, of all chains, Starbucks pulled a D. Getting an F — i.e. not even bothering — includes a surprising number of sit-down chains like Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Why does it matter? The short answer is that overuse of antibiotics puts the animals, and thus our food supply, at risk. Animals are usually given antibiotics because it speeds up animal growth and thus profits. It’s so commonplace that 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US go straight to feed lots and pastures. Just like human infections, the more we use an antibiotic, the more likely an infection is to become resistant to it, and the more dangerous that infection becomes.

For the record, the idea that antibiotic-resistant infections might develop in animals and then jump to humans isn’t settled science, and any antibiotics approved for human use got yanked from the food chain by the FDA. So, no, your Unlimited Pasta Pass probably isn’t killing humanity, no matter what the guy who insists corn fungus totally tastes like chicken tells you. That said, the effects of an epidemic can be disastrous on humans in different ways. The 2001 foot and mouth outbreak in the UK resulted in 10 million animals killed, and was an enormous economic and social burden for the regions affected. Farms shut down, homes were lost, and by some measures they’re still recovering more than a decade later.

While the argument about cruelty and animal products will never end, why should we put the animals we eat at risk when we don’t have to? So, when you’re buying fast food, make a point of asking for antibiotic-free meat. It’s easy and allows you to vote with your dollars.

(via Grub Street)

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