More than half of the largest 25 fast food and fast casual restaurant chains in the U.S. now have policies in place that either limit or eliminate the use of antibiotics in the production of the meat and/or poultry they serve, according to a new report out today.
“Chain Reaction III: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Use of Antibiotics in Their Meat Supply” (PDF) was produced by Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports.
“Fast food restaurants are major purchasers of meat and poultry,” says Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. “When they switch to meat and poultry raised without antibiotics, it can affect the entire supply chain.”
The 14 restaurants on this year’s list that have made commitments to reduce antibiotic use represent two-thirds of all fast food industry revenue.
Among the restaurants that made improvements this year, changes in chicken policies were responsible for all of the progress. The availability of “no-antibiotic” beef and pork at fast food chains is still very limited, according to the report.
How the restaurants scored
The six consumer, environmental, and health organizations mentioned above have produced the Chain Reaction Report as well as the accompanying Scorecard on Antibiotic Policies and Practices (see below) annually since 2015. The goal of the report is to encourage companies to adopt good policies that prohibit routine antibiotic use in healthy animals across all the meats they serve.
The 25 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 grade on the scorecard.
Several factors are part of the grade. Forty percent of the score is based on a company’s antibiotic use policy and having a timeline for implementing it. Implementation accounts for 32 percent of the grade. The remaining 28 percent of the score is based on transparency (using outside inspectors to verify that they’re using and adhering to their policy and keeping consumers regularly apprised of progress) and responding to the survey, which 16 of the 25 companies did this year.
The number of fast food and casual chains that received passing grades this year was triple the number in 2015, the first year of the report.
Panera Bread and Chipotle lead the pack with A grades, for the third year in a row. Nearly all their meat and poultry are raised without any antibiotics. Subway upped last year’s B to a B+ after converting all chicken it serves to “no antibiotic.” It plans to do the same for turkey by 2019 and beef and pork by 2025.
Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s earned B’s and C’s for their strong antibiotic policies in chicken. McDonald’s recently announced that it wouldn’t serve chicken raised with antibiotics most valuable to human medicine in restaurants worldwide by 2027. (It currently does not sell chicken raised on antibiotics important in human medicine in the U.S.)
KFC notably upped last year’s score from an F to a B- after committing to only serve chicken raised without medically important antibiotics by the end of 2018.
Some smaller chains not represented on the scorecard are also making progress. For example, all of the chicken served at Dickey’s BBQ is no-antibiotic, as is all of the beef, pork, and poultry served at Cheesecake Factory.
Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack in the Box, and Starbucks were upgraded from last year’s F to a D, joining the likes of Papa Johns and Pizza Hut. These chains received a “D” grade for having limited policies on antibiotics, or for not fully implementing them yet.
Applebee’s, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, Dairy Queen, Domino’s Pizza, IHOP, Little Caesars, Olive Garden, and Sonic earned “F” grades for having absolutely no antibiotics policies in place at all.
We reached out to the National Restaurant Association for comment and will update this story with any response.
This new is taken from Business Insider.