New antibiotics scorecard:
Top Restaurant Chains Restricting Use in Chicken Doubled in 2016
Subway and Wendy’s most improved; KFC, Olive Garden and 14 others get Fs
The second annual Chain Reaction Report and Scorecard shows that since September 2015, twice as many of the nation’s top fast food chains are responding to the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance by adopting strong policies that prohibit the routine use of antibiotics, or medically-important antibiotics, in the meat and poultry they serve. This Chain Reaction report and scorecard is provided by a group of consumer, environmental and health organizations, which grades America’s top 25 restaurant chains on their policies and practices regarding antibiotics use and transparency in their meat and poultry supply chains. The nine chains earning passing grades are Panera Bread (PNRA), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Subway, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s (MCD), Wendy’s (WEN), Taco Bell (YUM), Pizza Hut (YUM) and Papa John’s Pizza (PZZA).
Panera and Chipotle continue to lead the pack with solid “A” grades for implementing comprehensive policies that restrict antibiotics use across their meat and poultry supply.
Nine of the surveyed companies -- twice as many as last year -- received passing grades, largely due to their transition to chicken raised without antibiotics or chicken raised without medically-important antibiotics.
The restaurant chains surveyed this year made little progress on beef or pork.
Five companies with strong chicken policies received grades ranging from B to C- (Subway, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell.)
McDonald’s earned an improved grade of “C+” this year, after completing its 2015 commitment to end the use of medically-important antibiotics in its domestic chicken supply -- with 100% of the chicken at its 14,000 U.S. locations meeting this standard. But the company has yet to take action on beef or pork.
Subway improved the most, leaping from an “F” in 2015 to a “B” in 2016. Last fall, under pressure from the coalition and consumers, the chain committed to ending the use of antibiotics across its entire meat and poultry supply by 2025. Very few other chains—and none at this scale—have taken such a strong stance. Implementation of new policies for chicken began this year, but not turkey, pork or beef.
Dunkin’ Donuts was the only company to be downgraded to an “F” this year after weakening its publicly stated antibiotic policy.
The following chains also received an “F,” either for having no disclosed antibiotics use policy or for having policies that allow for the continued routine use of antibiotics in the production of the meat and poultry they serve: Applebee’s, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King, Chili’s, Dairy Queen, Denny’s, Domino’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, IHOP, Jack in the Box, KFC, Little Caesars, Olive Garden, Sonic and Starbucks.
Research for the Chain Reaction II report, including the survey of the top 25 U.S. restaurant chains, was compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, and Center for Food Safety.
More than 70 percent of medically-important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use on livestock and poultry. More than 96 percent of those drugs are routinely distributed in feed or water—often to animals that are not sick to speed up growth and help animals survive crowded and unsanitary conditions on industrial farms.
This practice contributes to the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections in humans. Leading medical experts warn that we must stop overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and animal agriculture, or else the life-saving drugs we rely on to treat common infections and enable medical procedures could stop working.
Conservatively, at least 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and at least 23,000 die as a direct result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this year, scientists discovered a gene which allows bacteria to resist colistin--an antibiotic used as a last-resort when all other antibiotics fail--in the U.S. for the first time, raising the spectre of a kind of “super-superbug,” resistant to every life-saving antibiotic available.