What’s In Your Fast Food Meat?
First of all, have you ever wonder what’s in your meat while eating at a fast food? A new report studies the antibiotics in the meat supply at the largest fast food restaurants in America. For the second time in a row, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread got the highest grade. Each received an A grade. As a mom who advocates for a healthy lifestyle, I wish to share what’s in our fast food meat.
Recently, CNN reported a very detailed and informative article regarding the amount of antibiotics present in the meat served by the biggest restaurants in our country. Absolutely, we have to pay attention because unlike those that we buy in grocery, we are not well-informed about the meat we are eating from our most-loved fast food joint.
In this shared report, the 25 largest American fast food and “Fast Casual” chains of restaurants on their antibiotics practices and policies. Unfortunately, 16 of these chains only received F grade. This is actually an improvement compared to the findings of last year. However, there are 9 companies which did not respond to the survey at all.
More importantly, these are the things you have to know right now according to CNN.
The Chain Reaction II, is co-authored by six nonprofit activist organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union and Friends of the Earth. It seeks to sound the alarm about the overuse of antibiotics in poultry and livestock. This is typically “to help them survive and make them grow faster in unsanitary, crowded and stressful conditions.”
“This misuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance. This is the ability of bacteria to withstand exposure to an antibiotic,” the authors write. “Antibiotic resistance makes treatment of bacterial infections harder, increases how long people are sick. Additionally, it makes it more likely that patients will die. Curbing the misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry is a public health imperative.”
How did your favorite food fare?
This year, in the second annual report, twice the number of restaurant chains received a passing grade. The authors say this is in large part due to companies’ transition of chicken supplies away from routine use of antibiotics.
“Just as we reported last year, Panera and Chipotle remain the only two restaurant chains that report that they currently offer an array of meat options. These are produced without the routine use of antibiotics, including pork and beef,” the authors write. Panera promises that as of this fall, 91% of all the meat and poultry it serves will be raised without antibiotics.
“We’re proud to have led the way on antibiotic reduction for over a decade. Also, we continue to push ourselves to new milestones,” says Sara Burnett. She is the director of wellness and food policy at Panera. “This month, we introduced deli turkey raised without antibiotics. We serve on some of our most popular sandwiches. All chicken and turkey served on our sandwiches and salads now meets our [raised without antibiotics] commitment.”
For its part, Chipotle says, “We have been leaders in the quest to serve meat from animals that are raised without the use of antibiotics, and do more of that than any other restaurant. We are pleased that studies of this kind are calling more attention to the issue of antibiotic use in livestock, and hope more restaurants will follow our lead in this area.”
Interestingly, SUBWAY jumped from a grade of F all the way up to a B, on account of it being the only restaurant chain to adopt a new antibiotics policy that applies to all types of meat it serves, according to the report.
Here are some info regarding the antibiotics in the fast food meat supply.
“We’re proud to have led the way on antibiotic reduction for over a decade, and continue to push ourselves to new milestones,” Panera said in a statement to CNN. “This month we introduced deli turkey raised without antibiotics, which we serve on some of our most popular sandwiches. All chicken and turkey served on our sandwiches and salads now meets our (raised without antibiotics) commitment.”
Chipotle Mexican Grill
“Of course, we have been leaders in the quest to serve meat from animals that are raised without the use of antibiotics, and do more of that than any other restaurant,” Chipotle said in a statement to CNN. “We are pleased that studies of this kind are calling more attention to the issue of antibiotic use in livestock, and hope more restaurants will follow our lead in this area.”
“Earlier this year, we introduced rotisserie-style chicken that is raised without antibiotics. In addition, by the end of 2016, SUBWAY restaurants across the US will be serve chicken raised without antibiotics,” the company said in a statement to CNN.
“Our journey continues with turkey raised without antibiotics, which has been introduced in select markets this year. This will be available in all restaurants across the US within the next three years. Amazingly, by 2025, all pork and beef we serve will be raised without antibiotics.”
“Definitely, we are pleased the ‘Chain Reaction II’ report recognizes our efforts in the journey toward ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ (NAE),” the company said in a statement to CNN. “Chick-fil-A was the first in the quick service restaurant industry to announce a commitment to NAE in its chicken supply back in 2014.
This commitment is the most restrictive in the industry, with no antibiotics … to be administered at all within the chicken’s lifespan. Because of this stringent requirement and our desire to have third-party verification of our supplier’s processes, the switch will take some time, and we are on track to reach the full commitment by 2019.”
“We care about this issue and want to use our scale to make a positive difference,” McDonald’s said in a statement to CNN. “In August, McDonald’s USA announced completion of its commitment to only serve chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine. It’s nearly a year ahead of schedule. At this point, every chicken item McDonald’s serves in the US is purely from chicken. More importantly, there are no treatments with antibiotics important to human medicine, including our new Chicken McNuggets.”
“Wendy’s is well on its way to eliminating all antibiotics important to human medicine from chicken production. In addition, the company aims to achieve this goal in 2017,” the company said in a statement to CNN.
Unfortunately, Taco Bell did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“We announced a commitment earlier this year to remove antibiotics important to human medicine from chicken in our pizzas by the end of March 2017,” Pizza Hut said in a statement to CNN. “In addition, we’ve removed BHA/BHT from all of our meats. We also eliminate artificial flavors and colors.” Therefore, the will be free of artificial preservatives from cheese by the end of March 2017.
Sadly, Papa John’s did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“Chick-fil-A, one of the first companies to announce good antibiotics use policy in 2014 for its chicken (essentially everything it serves), stays put with a B grade. There are more than 23%’ of its chicken supply to chicken raised entirely without antibiotics to date. Interestingly, this indicates that only marginal progress over last year,” says the report.
Basically, McDonald’s improved its performance, getting a C+ “for completing its transition of its chicken supply, reporting that an impressive 100% of the chicken served at its roughly 14,000 US restaurants is now raised without antibiotics important in human medicine,” according to the report. “However, the company made no commitments for its beef and pork.”
Also, Wendy’s says that 50% of its chicken is raised “without antibiotics important in human medicine” and that its entire chicken supply will comply with its policy by the end of 2017; it earned a C grade.
Pediatricians want farmers to use fewer antibiotics
In April, Taco Bell announced that it would source only chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine by early 2017, earning a grade of C-.
On the other hand, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s received D grades “for making token efforts. They work to set good antibiotics use policies on chicken. But, this only applies to a small fraction of their chicken purchases,” according to the report.
Interestingly, sixteen of the top 25 fast food chains “have taken no action to reduce use of antibiotics in their supply chains” and received grades of F.
Amazingly, CNN solicited responses from all companies that scored higher than an F; click through the photo gallery above for those responses.
What’s the big deal?
“Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest health threats facing us today,” says CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Moreover, “We’ve taken too many drugs, and as a result, they don’t work the way they used to.”
We can protect the world from antibiotic resistance if we act now, experts say
Furthermore, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization warn about the not-far-off public health threat of antibiotic resistance. The CDC estimates that at least 2 million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections annually. Unfortunately, this results to 23,000 deaths.
“A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill. Actually, this is far from being an apocalyptic fantasy. Instead, a very real possibility for the 21st century,” the WHO cautioned in a 2014 report.
Today, the priority of the Chain Reaction survey and scorecard “remains to encourage companies to adopt good policies. They must prohibit routine antibiotic use for growth promotion or disease prevention across all the meats they serve. In fact, our scoring reflects this priority. There are 40 points out of 100 for good policies that include time-bound commitments.”
“However, as more companies adopt such policies. We anticipate offering a greater share of points for implementation. For example, to companies making good on their commitments. Actually, we serve meat and poultry that meets their antibiotics use standards.”
In addition, this week in New York a rare occurrence at the United Nations General Assembly on antibiotic resistance. Also, this is a rare part of history when world leaders have convened to discuss a global public health issue. On Wednesday, superbugs will be the center of attention on the world stage.
Also, the authors of this new report believe it’s time, that the government response to this major public health threat. Unluckily, the action has been woefully inadequate.”
While they agree that restaurants are making changes for the better. Especially, when it comes to healthier, more responsible food sourcing. Today, they add efforts to date are simply not enough.
Hopefully, we all learn from this. At the end of the day, we have to walk the extra mile to ensure we provide our family with only the best. Finally, we have to research and be more creative to serve the best and healthiest food they deserve!