Restaurant scorecard: How big chains fared on antibiotics in meat

A handful of fast food and chain restaurants this year beefed up their pledge to limit or eliminate antibiotics in the production of the meat and poultry they serve.

More than half of the largest 25 restaurant chains now have antibiotics policies in place; that’s nearly triple what it was three years ago.

Why is that important? Although antibiotics can be helpful for treating sick animals used for food, they are often overused to prevent disease and to help animals grow faster. Overuse is a really big threat to public health. It can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and that can make infections in humans really difficult to treat.

All of the progress at chain restaurants is due to changes in chicken policies. “No-antibiotic” beef and pork is still very limited.

So who passed with flying colors?

Panera Bread and Chipotle came out ahead because nearly all of their meat and poultry are raised without antibiotics.

Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Subway, and Wendy’s earned B’s and C’s.

KFC improved with a B-minus and McDonald’s pulled in a C-plus. But while KFC says it is committed to serving chicken raised without antibiotics, those changes won’t be implemented for a while.

All of the chicken served at McDonald’s has been raised without medically important antibiotics, but the company has made no progress on its beef and pork.

Some big restaurants slower to make the shift — Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks among others — pulled in D’s.

Eleven including Applebee’s, Chili’s, Dairy Queen, and Olive Garden failed completely for having no policies at all.

It’s also worth noting that numerous smaller chains are making progress. For example, all of the chicken served at Dickey’s BBQ is no-antibiotic, as is all of the beef, pork, and poultry served at Cheesecake Factory.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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