Report: Restaurant chains still failing on antibiotics in beef


Chris Dall, CIDRAP News

University of Minnesota - Jul 14, 2021


The latest evaluation of how the nation's major restaurant chains are faring when it comes to responsible use of antibiotics in beef shows most continue to get a failing grade.


The sixth annual Chain Reaction Scorecard, which grades the top 20 US fast food and casual sit-down restaurants on their antibiotic use policies for beef sourcing, and how those policies are implemented and monitored, gave 12 chains "F" grades for taking no public action to reduce routine antibiotic use in their beef supplies. Three companies earned "D" grades, while three chains earned "C" grades.


Among the chains receiving a "C" was Wendy's, which earned a higher grade in this report for its commitment to ending the use of medically important antibiotics in its beef by 2030.


The report, produced by a coalition working to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, determines the grades by directly surveying the companies and reviewing their public statements. Earlier Chain Reaction reports focused on chain restaurants' commitments to serving chicken raised without medically important antibiotics, but this report focused specifically on the beef industry.


"The beef industry continues to vastly overuse antibiotics," said report contributor Matt Wellington, public health campaigns director for US PIRG (Public Interest Research Groups) Education Fund. "Beef producers still account for about 41% of medically important antibiotics sold in the meat sector, so that's really where we want to create some change."


Wendy's policy a 'significant step forward'


Restaurant chains can earn higher grades by committing to sourcing beef from producers who've phased out routine use of medically important antibiotics in cattle, a policy that adheres to the position World Health Organization (WHO), which in 2017 recommended that medically important antibiotics should only be used to treat sick animals or control a verified disease outbreak...


Calls for national targets


The report doesn't just single out the restaurant industry. It also notes that none of the nation's four largest beef processors—Cargill, JBS, Tyson, and National Beef—prohibit routine antibiotic use in cattle as part of their standard operating procedures... 


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