USA TODAY US Edition
Most restaurant chains miss mark on use of antibiotics
Chipotle, Panera get an ‘A’, but list of those receiving ‘F’ is long
Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread were given high marks for their efforts to eliminate the use of antibiotics from the meat they serve, but fast-food giants Burger King, Domino’s and Wendy’s are among those given failing grades, according to a scorecard released Tuesday by a coalition of environmental and consumer advocacy groups.
Panera, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s have all adopted policies that either limit the use of medically important antibiotics or prohibit any antibiotic use in the production of the meat they serve.
The report notes that Panera and Chipotle, which were given A grades, are the only chains that publicly affirm that the majority of their meat and poultry offered is produced without routine use of antibiotics.
“The prevalence of antibiotic misuse and overuse in U.S. meat production reflects a broader tendency of poor farm management and animal welfare practices in industrial U.S.,” said the coalition report titled Chain Reaction: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Antibiotics to their
Meat Supply. “Major U.S. restaurant chains can make an important contribution to tackling antibiotic resistance by working with their meat and poultry suppliers to reduce routine use of antibiotics.”
The report and scorecard comes as fast-food chains are increasingly facing demands to eliminate the use of antibiotics in their meat supply. Research has indicated the use of human antibiotics to treat animals raised for food has contributed to the rise of “superbug ” bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.
Chick-fil-A (B grade) and McDonald’s (C) have announced plans to limit antibiotic use in their chicken with implementation timelines, and Dunkin’ Donuts (C) has a policy covering all meats but has no reported timeline for implementation.
The report gives an F to 20 of the top 25 restaurant chains — including Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC — because they have no disclosed policy on antibiotics use or have policies that the group deemed allow for the routine use of antibiotics in the meats they serve.
The report also gave failing grades to chains such as Star- bucks and Subway despite both companies publicly stating they would limit the use of antibiotics in their meats.
Subway announced last month it plans to switch to chicken without human antibiotics by 2016 and that it was looking to find antibiotic-free options for other meats served at the 44,000-unit chain. The coalition said it only gave Subway partial credit for their new policy because their website indicates only support for the “elimination of subtherapeutic use of antibiotics,” and it is unclear whether the company would end of all routine antibiotic use in its supply chains. The co- alition also writes in the report that Subway’s public statements have created “uncertainty” about their level of commitment. The sandwich chain, like many of the restaurants ranked, did not respond to the coalition’s survey.
Starbucks was dinged even though it announced in 2009 a buying preference in North America from suppliers who use industry best practices for animal husbandry and processing for dairy, egg and meat production. Last year, the Seattle-based company broadened its animal welfare policy to promote supporting responsible use of antibiotics to support animal health.
“Even though we purchase a limited amount of meat, we are working with our suppliers to address concerns about antibiotic use and are looking to collaborate with others across our industry and in the NGO community to promote best practices on this issue,” Starbucks said in a statement.
Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced it would stop serving chicken raised with antibiotics in its U.S. restaurants, what many analysts called a significant move by the nation’s second-largest poultry purchaser. But the coalition said it gave McDonald’s a C because the chain’s routine use of antibiotics is still allowed for “disease prevention” in the production of its pork and beef, and the company is not publicly reporting on the current percentage of poultry served that is raised without routine antibiotics.
As the nation’s top purchaser of beef and pork, McDonald’s should be doing more, says Sriram Madhusoodanan, director of the Value (the) Meal campaign at Corporate Accountability International. “If the corporation were serious about becoming a ‘ modern, progressive burger company,’ ” said Madhusoodanan, referring to the mantra of McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, “it would immediately implement a strong, accountable and transparent antibiotics policy across its supply chain.”