Which fast food chains serve meat on drugs? A new report grades restaurants on their meat and poultry antibiotic policies

Experts

Director, Food Policy Initiatives​
Campaign Organizer

By Meg Bohne on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

By Trisha Calvo, cross-posted from Consumer Reports. 

Several fast food chains have made headlines recently announcing that they’ll stop serving meat raised with antibiotics, but a new report from Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, and five other organizations finds that 20 of the 25 top restaurant chains have made no commitment to limit antibiotic use.

The routine use of antibiotics in raising cattle, chicken, and other animals  contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance—where bacteria evolve to become immune to these life-saving drugs. “As consumers become aware of the problem, they’re increasingly seeking out meat that has been raised without antibiotics, both when they shop at the supermarket and when they dine out,” says Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union. “This new report gives them the info they need to make better restaurant choices.”

The report, Chain Reaction: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Use of Antibiotics in Their Meat Supply, provides consumers with a score card of the top 25 fast food and fast casual restaurant chains, grading each restaurant’s current antibiotic policy. The companies were sent a survey and their responses along with public statements by the companies either in the press or on their websites were used to calculate the score.

Fast Food Scorecard

Chipotle and Panera Bread received A’s. Not only have they adopted policies that  prohibit the use of antibiotics, their policies apply to all types of meat they serve, and, with only a few exceptions,they’ve implemented those policies. Chick-fil-A received a B. The company pledged in 2014 to stop sourcing chicken  raised with antibiotics over five years, and currently 20 percent of the chicken  they serve meets that goal. Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s got C’s. Dunkin’ Donuts has adopted a good policy, but has not set a timetable for implementation. McDonald’s policy only applies to chicken, and the company has not indicated the current percentage of poultry served that’s raised without antibiotics, according to the report.

The other 20 restaurants received a failing grade, including Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, and Subway, the largest fast food chain the world.

Over 100 organizations called on these companies to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics from their meat supply in a letter to CEOs delivered today.

“Chain restaurants have been pushed to serve healthier food and people usually think that means fewer calories or less sugar,” says Halloran. “But serving meat raised without antibiotics is a vital public health goal and one that we believe these companies must strive for.”

 

30 responses to “Which fast food chains serve meat on drugs? A new report grades restaurants on their meat and poultry antibiotic policies”

  1. Jan Smith says:

    If you haven’t noticed…there is a cancer epidemic. Count how many people who have been recently diagnosed in your own family, community, work, church…our food, water, medicine is in need of review. Somethings going on….

  2. Mikey Ivy says:

    I don’t know why ya’ll have such a problem with conventional agriculture.First of all the USDA (which i don’t expect ya’ll to know what that is)made it illegal to put hormones in chickens.Second we do use hormones in beef but there is a 60 day withdraw period before that animal can go to slaughter.I, as a beef farmer, don’t appreciate ya’ll targeting my way of life.So do you know what i have to say to all you tree huggers that think you are experts.GO FUCK YOUR SELF!DON’T GIVE US A BAD NAME BECAUSE OF YOUR PERSONAL BELIEFS.

  3. I have bought chicken breasts that are almost as big as a turkey breast. Knowing this was unusual I spoke with a young man studying agriculture. He said “That’s due to growth hormones”. On cartons of milk it reads’ No growth hormones’ on egg cartons ‘No antibiotics or artificial growth hormones’. Why then are meats not labeled in the same way? Also hamburger buns etc. We could all be informed and make better choices. I think both are harmful. Most unnatural for the animals involved too.

    • Thom says:

      Look for “grass fed and finished”.

    • Meg Bohne says:

      Growth hormones are actually prohibited from use in poultry (chicken/turkey) and pigs. So if you see a label that says “no growth hormones” on packages of poultry or pork, all it does is tell you these companies are following the law. Antibiotics, however, are often used in the production of these meats and do cause the animals to grow at a faster rate. Look for package labels that say “No antibiotics” or a similar claim.

      Hormones are allowed, however, in beef and dairy cattle, so “no hormones” is a meaningful claim with regards to milk, dairy and beef products.

  4. Jules says:

    Yes, probably no different than the meat sold at stores. Between meats produced with antibiotics and hormones, treatment of animals at these factories (NOT farms), contamination concerns (ecoli), and worrying about what animals are fed (gmo foods, foods treated with pesticides), I finally gave up meat. I don’t miss it. I hope I’m healthier, but we do have to be more aware and continue to question everything.

  5. Kim Estes Spehar says:

    What was your criteria to come up with your top twenty, was it fast food, revenue, just curious? http://www.businessinsider.com/the-20-most-successful-fast-food-chains-in-america-2015-8

    Thanks,
    Kim Spehar

  6. Bryn says:

    It’s not just the meat that has issues for people, but the buns as well. For example, many people comment about McDonald’s buns, which when left out don’t go moldy or decompose. I really think people need to look into their own kitchen pantry for some surprises. For the most part, the bread they’re feeding their families with at home have the very same ingredients!

    Next, they need to cook a hamburger and leave it and the bun out to see how long it’ll take to go bad. The surprise is that their own home-cooked hamburger will sit there for years and become dried out but won’t rot. If they wrapped it up and left it out, then yes, it would rot. They’re on the wrong track entirely as to what constitutes unhealthy food.

  7. Lorraine says:

    Just being aware is the first step. We can’t change everything at once, although helping to spread awareness is where you begin to make the changes happen. Wake up consumers!

  8. Nogrosslesions says:

    As usual, the public is quite ill informed on this topic. I’m all for banning the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and reserving them for cases of infection in individual animals. But people seem to have some misconceptions about the use of growth-promotant antibiotics. Antibiotics used are often not “life-saving” drugs used in human medicine, and are often not absorbed through the gut wall, doing their thing in the gut only. And if they are absorbed, there are withdrawal regulations, and testing. That system is not perfect, but….You are not eating antibiotic-laced meat. You are eating the product of a ridiculous practice. The use of probiotics in poultry was studied back in the 1950s but not put into widespread use. The companies moving away from antibiotics are moving to probiotics (cultured, beneficial gut flora), for poultry. I’m not sure what’s happening in the world of swine and beef husbandry along those lines. Also, I’m seeing confusion between hormones and antibiotics. Hormones: a different argument.

  9. Kim says:

    I don’t know why people find this so surprising and say they won’t eat there again. The meat at your grocery store is no different. Unless you are raising your own or shop “certified” organic stores, you’re getting meat raised the same way, from the same sources as theirs. Also, just because something is labeled organic doesn’t mean it is. Organic food is not regulated by the FDA, which means someone at a farmers market or locally owned small store can grow their veggies with fertilizers such as Miracle Grow, slap an organic label on it and say it came fresh from their garden. In the end we really don’t know where our food comes from or how it’s produced, we only know what we are told. That’s why I grow my own veggies. Plus it tastes better.

    • Steve says:

      certified organic is inspected and you just can’t slap a label on

      USDA set up rules are agency checks te entire farm

      Checks all records and receipts

      It is not just slapping on a label

      Buy from your local farmer or butcher to know

      What you are eating

      • Carole says:

        Steve, it would be nice, if what you say is true, but it isn’t. The Cornucopia Institute filed a formal legal complaints against 14 industrial livestock operations producing milk, meat and eggs being marketed, allegedly illegally, as organic. You can read about it at: http://www.cornucopia.org. It happened just this past Dec. If it wasn’t for groups such as this, watching out for us, these places would exist without having to answer to anyone. The USDA is certainly not doing it’s job. So they are just slapping a label on their products and ripping off the American people.

  10. Lei says:

    I don’t know why government can’t ban drugged meat. It is not good for human nor humane for the animals. Instead of gov does something from the root cause we consumers are struggled to accept all the drugged meat out there. Also pays more to eat regular healthy meat.

  11. Ellie James says:

    I think there’s something wrong with that study. I eat mostly organic and when I ate the Chik-Fil-A sandwich, the chicken tasted as if it was full of something (antibiotics maybe) other than chicken meat.

  12. Giselle says:

    This report will definitely change where I eat out. I try to avoid fast food in any case, but sometimes I am out and in a hurry and will try to figure out which ones are the worst of the lot. Thank you for posting these results.

    I wonder why Carl’s Jr. isn’t included.

    • Meg Bohne says:

      We surveyed the 25 largest fast/casual chains in the US, as ranked by sales. Carl’s Jr. doesn’t fall within the top 25. However, our report does note that Carl’s Jr. recently became the first national chain to add a burger to its menu that is reportedly grass-fed and raised without antibiotics, hormones or steroids. Only their new “Natural” burger meets these criteria though – the rest of the beef they source is likely to be conventionally-raised (i.e., with the use of antibiotics, steroids and/or hormones).

  13. Deb Trolsen says:

    Not at all good marks. I know you guys could do better. I wonder why Bo Jangles isn’t included.

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