NEW YORK — More than 25 US burger chains were graded on their antibiotic policies in the fourth annual Chain Reaction scorecard on Oct. 17, with the majority receiving an “F” grade.
According to the collaborative report between six consumer and environmental organizations, 22 of the top 25 fast food restaurants including McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s and Sonic Drive-In received the grade of “F” due to unestablished policies restricting antibiotic use in beef.
Shake Shack and BurgerFi were the only two fast food restaurants to received “A” grades because both companies serve only beef raised without antibiotics.
“People want better burgers and the companies taking note are seeing better business,” said Lena Brook, acting director of food and agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “With more of these miracle drugs going to cows than to people, the beef industry has a responsibility — and an opportunity — to help keep them working when sick people and animals need them. Most fast food restaurants are putting burger lovers in a bind. If they want responsibly raised meat, right now, chicken is the best choice at many mainstream chains.”
The report did acknowledge that McDonald’s has plans to implement antibiotic stewardship, but it has not set a timeline beyond its chicken supply. The same pledge has happened for West Coast fast food outlet In-N-Out Burger.
Wendy’s received a grade of “D-minus” because the company purchases 15 percent of its beef supply from producers that reduced the use of tylosin by 20 percent.
The collaborative report is made up of Consumer Reports, National Resources Defense Council, US PIRG Education Fund, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety and Food Animal Concerns.
“There’s nothing more American than a hamburger. But for the sake of our health, we need influential restaurants such as McDonald’s to take a bite out of antibiotic overuse in the beef industry,” said Matt Wellington, US PIRG Education Fund’s Antibiotics Program Director. “Restaurants need to demand antibiotic restrictions from their beef suppliers. We simply cannot afford to lose life-saving medicines to produce a slightly cheaper burger.”