After all the media fuss that’s been made around raising farm animals in antibiotics, most of the US’ popular fast-food chains have yet to reveal plans to curb the practice. Consequently, the meat served in their restaurants still comes from animals that have been routinely fed antibiotics, according to a new report of consumer groups.
Some of the industry leaders, such Domino’s Pizza, Subway, KFC and Starbucks, that were expected to set an example for other market players, received an “F” grade, the lowest given for antibiotic policies.
Published on Tuesday, the “Chain Reaction” report from health and consumer groups is based on surveys, public statements of the companies and correspondence with some of the fast-food chains.
None of the restaurants involved in the report were told the results beforehand, so there would be no concerns over their accuracy. Thus, companies labeled with failing grades are not yet able to give response or comment on their situation.
According to statistics, more than 70 percent of the antibiotics that should primarily be used for improving human health are sold instead in the meat and dairy production. Consequently, public health experts have expressed their concerns about the overuse of such drugs, claiming they contribute to the development of the so-called “superbugs.”
Superbugs are antibiotic-resistant bacteria that increase the number of life-threatening human infections. Estimations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that each year, around 2 million people are infected with such bacteria, 23,000 of whom die.
Co-author of the report Kari Hamerschlag, a senior program manager at Friends of the Earth, explained how the situation isn’t as rosy as one might think; most of the meat that’s being served in America’s chain restaurants – from chicken nuggets to bacon cheeseburgers – comes from animals raised in industrial facilities.
Instead of improving the currently unsanitary, crowded, and stressful conditions these animals live in, their owners prefer to prevent any spreading of disease via routinely administered antibiotics. Subway turned out to be the worst food chain, as it is the only one failing to take a public stance against antibiotic use in the meats it buys.
“A” graders weren’t as many as the health groups had hoped; only Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill received this honor, two popular chains that are very strict in their policies on antibiotic use.
Then comes Chick-fil-A with a “B” grade, and McDonald’s Corp and Dunkin’ Donuts both with “Cs.” While all of these restaurants have expressed their plans on curbing antibiotics in the meat they buy, only some have already set a timeline for their targets.
Image Source: UCS USA