Fast Food and Antibiotics: A Report Card
According to a new report, the use of antibiotic-laden meat in the fast food and “fast casual” food industries remains rampant. This research, titled “Chain Reaction,” was carried out by Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and four other consumer interest, public health, and environmental organizations. The content of the paper is focused on how the use of these drugs can lead to antibiotic resistance, and examines the impact this has on human health, as well as the implications of antibiotic use on animal welfare.
This article from CNN.com looks at this report and includes various responses from some of the companies included in the study. It notes that each restaurant was graded on their antibiotics use policies, implementation of policies, and transparency about their policies. The researchers found that an astonishing 20 of the 25 restaurants received a failing grade. Of those that passed, Chipotle and Panera fared the best. The restaurants that received “F” grades, getting zero out of a possible 36 points, include Olive Garden, Papa John’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Applebee’s, Sonic, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Outback, and Little Caesars. The article muddles the issue by quoting Terry Fleck, the executive director of the Center for Food Integrity, whose members include the National Restaurant Association:
“Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health concern that should be addressed both in human and animal medicine, but just as with you or me, when animals get sick with a bacterial infection, treating them with antibiotics is the ethical thing to do. Farmers work closely with veterinarians to responsibly administer antibiotics in the care for their animals, benefiting each of us by making food safer and more affordable.”
Despite issues around antibiotics in meat usually focusing on human health, the rampant use of these drugs is generally known to be a by-product of keeping farmed animals in horrific and stressful conditions. Though this study focuses on consumers of fast food, it can serve as a resource for advocates to show that the majority of fast food companies are not following publicly acknowledged standards of antibiotic use.