Twenty-one fast-food chains were ranked by cattle antibiotic use. While Chipotle and Panera were in the A range, fifteen chains received F’s.
The fifth-annual “Chain Reactions” scorecard is published by consumer groups including Consumer Reports, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and The Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC), according to a press release from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, an organization involved in the scorecard.
“That these restaurants have such a wide range of policies around sourcing meat raised with medically important antibiotics underscores the need for government regulation to mandate reductions in antibiotic use for the industry writ large,” Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at the Center for Food Safety, said in the press release.
Superlatives were also assigned. As the nation’s third-largest burger chain, Wendy’s received “Biggest Wannabe” for reducing one medically important antibiotic by 20% in what the press release said was 30% of its beef supply. McDonald’s received “Biggest Moover” for a December decision creating reduction targets for the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, BurgerFi and Shake Shack received “Best Burger Joints” but were not ranked in the report due to their smaller sizes. Chipotle and Panera were named “Early Leaders” for being the first two major national chains to address antibiotics and now only serving beef raised without routine antibiotic use.
While cattle were specifically targeted in the report, Lena Brook, NRDC Food Campaigns Director, said she looks to the poultry industry as an example for animal agriculture.
“Fast food companies helped transform practices in the chicken industry,” Brook said. “Now they need to do it again for beef.”
According to the press release, two thirds of antibiotics medically important for humans are currently sold for livestock, and cattle consume more than any sector of animal agriculture.
Meg Bohne, Consumer Reports associate director of campaigns, says she wants medicine to be reproportioned.
“Most fast food chains continue to rely on beef suppliers that waste these life-saving medications on cows that are not sick,” Bohne said in the press release.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents in a 2018 Consumer reports survey said antibiotics should not be given to healthy animals, and 59% reported being more likely to eat at restaurants serving meat raised without antibiotics, according to the press release.