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Antibiotic Scorecard Rates Food Chains

Drug-resistant bacteria is enabled by the misuse of antibiotics. (usda.gov)
Drug-resistant bacteria is enabled by the misuse of antibiotics. (usda.gov)
October 3, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – A new nationwide report ranks the top 25 restaurant chains for their antibiotics policies and practices.

At issue is the misuse of antibiotics in meat production, which experts say puts human health at risk by breeding drug-resistant bacteria.

Shelby Luce, Antibiotics Program fellow at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund says for the third year in a row, Panera and Chipotle were the only two major chains to get an "A" grade, because they reject routine antibiotic use through their entire supply chain. Further down the list is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Luce says KFC earned the "most improved" grade.

"Going from an 'F' grade to a 'B-minus' for its newly announced commitment to no longer serve chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in its U.S. locations by 2018," she says.

According to the report, 14 restaurant chains have taken action this year to curb the routine use of antibiotics in their supply chains, compared with nine last year.

Luce says the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both warn that widespread overuse of antibiotics is pushing us closer to a time when medicines could no longer work.

"Right now, 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for use in animal agriculture, and fast-food restaurants are some of the largest meat purchasers in the world," she explains. "So, their policies can completely shift the meat industry for the U.S. - and eventually, hopefully, globally."

The report says no new progress was made in reducing antibiotic use in beef and pork.

Luce says New England-based Dunkin Donuts moved up a grade to a "D" with its recent commitment to stop serving chicken raised with antibiotics by the end of 2018.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN