Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell were among the 21 popular restaurant chains that failed a health evaluation in a recent research report entitled “Chain Reaction.”
Eighty percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S are consumed by livestock and poultry instead of people, reported The Natural Resources Defense Council.
In light of this data, several organizations involved with animal antibiotics and food, including Keep Antibiotics Working and Center for Food Safety, researched the policies of 25 fast food chains concerning the use of antibiotics in their meat.
“From double bacon cheeseburgers to chicken nuggets, most meat served by America’s top chain restaurants comes from animals raised in industrial-scale facilities where they are routinely fed antibiotics,” according to the aforementioned study.
The research consisted of a survey posed to the participating restaurants. The survey aimed to gain information related to meat procurement policies and use of antibiotics.
Restaurants were graded from A to F based on their policies. Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread received an A; Chick-fil-A received a B; Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s received a C; the other 21 restaurant chains received an F.
On Sept. 15 different health, governmental and environmental organizations as well as colleges sent a letter to the CEOs of the top restaurant chains in the U.S. asking them to stop serving meat in their restaurants that has been raised using antibiotics.
The organizations proposed to “publicly adopt an antibiotics stewardship policy that prohibits the use of antibiotics and let suppliers know that the company expects poultry and other meats sold in your restaurants to meet this standard.”
Joel Funk, assistant professor of biology, said that there are two reasons livestock producers use antibiotics. The first is to help animals recover when they are sick, and the second is to increase weight.
A consequence of using antibiotics to feed animals is that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year at least two million citizens develop antibiotic-resistant infections.
“If I get sick, it is going to make it more difficult to treat my disease because there are fewer choices for antibiotics,” Funk said.
Krizana Saucedo, senior biology major, expressed that sometimes even though the meat is cleaned, some bacteria might remain in the meat. Those bacteria that survive become resistant.
“I think, if the food industry is going to use antibiotics, they need to be regulated more,” Saucedo said.
Research authors hope to make this survey an annual strategy to provide consumers with the necessary information to make better eating choices.