Report urges burger chains to hold the antibiotics

A new report on antibiotic use in the burger industry gives all but three chain restaurants a failing grade.

The fourth annual Chain Reaction scorecard, released today, surveyed the top 25 US burger chains on their policies and practices around antibiotics in their beef supply chain and gave 22 of them an “F” for not having any announced policy to source beef raised without antibiotics. Two small but growing chains—Shake Shack and BurgerFi—earned an “A” grade for serving only beef raised without antibiotics.

Wendy’s was the sole large burger chain to get a passing grade, receiving a “D-” for buying 15% of its beef from producers that have reduced the use of the medically important antibiotic tylosin in cattle by 20%. Wendy’s and Shake Shack (for a portion of its supply) are the only chains to use independent third-party auditors to verify compliance with their policies.

Previous Chain Reaction scorecards have graded the nation’s largest restaurant chains on antibiotic policies and practices in all meat served. Matt Wellington, co-author of the report and director of the US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund’s antibiotics program, says the new report focuses specifically on hamburgers because the beef industry accounts for 43% of the medically important antibiotics sold for use in food-producing animals, and a significant amount of that beef ends up as burgers.

“We know, based on the latest FDA [Food and Drug Administration] data that the beef industry buys the most medically important antibiotics out of any meat sector, so clearly that’s an area where we need to make progress in reducing antibiotic use,” Wellington told CIDRAP News. “As some of the largest beef buyers in the US, burger chains are really in the position to effect that kind of change.”

Source: CIDRAP

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