www.nrdc.org / by Lena Brook & Allison Johnson
October 17, 2018
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and our allies—Consumer Reports, U.S. Public Research Interest Group, Friends of the Earth, Food Animal Concerns Trust, and Center for Food Safety—annually review and grade the 25 largest fast-food and -casual restaurant chains in the United States on their policies regarding the use of antibiotics in the meat they buy. We also look at how these policies are being implemented and whether companies are transparent about their progress in reducing antibiotic use. The results are published in a report called Chain Reaction.
When top restaurant chains voluntarily commit to ending the routine use of antibiotics in their supply networks, they can ignite broader change in practices across the meat industry. Ending routine antibiotics use can help slow the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and keep these critical medicines working to treat infections in humans and animals. Many companies have committed to ending or restricting the use of medically important drugs in chicken supply chains. Unfortunately, when it comes to beef and pork, we’ve seen little in the way of meaningful change.
Because burger chains are significant buyers of beef in the United States, our 2018 Chain Reaction report shines the spotlight on antibiotics policies and practices in this sector of the restaurant industry.
Commitments from companies are a critical part of the solution to the antibiotics resistance crisis. But the market alone will not solve the problem. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must also regulate antibiotics across the livestock sector by banning the routine use of these drugs for disease prevention—not just growth promotion—and by setting a national goal for concrete reductions in livestock antibiotics use.