You’ve heard the pundits talk about a drug-free society. But what about a drug-free hamburger?
As health officials sound the alarm about antibiotic resistance caused by the overuse of antibiotics in meat production, a few fast-food chains are taking steps to clean up their acts. But overall, when it comes to getting antibiotics out of their supply chains, the fast-food restaurant industry gets a failing grade, according to a new report compiled by Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, FACT, Center for Food Safety and Keep Antibiotics Working.
The report, Chain Reaction, includes a scorecard on the top 10 fast-food chains. The only two chains to earn an A grade? Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill. (Chipotle was attacked by the media earlier this year, for announcing plans to go GMO-free. OCA National Director defended Chipotle’s decision to heed consumer demand for GMO-free food).
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.
Antibiotic-resistance is largely attributed to the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics on factory farms. The factory farm industry says the antibiotics are needed to prevent disease—partly true, as animals confined indoors in cramped, inhumane conditions, are more susceptible to disease. But it’s widely known that industry uses the drugs to grow bigger animals, faster.
It’s been nearly two years since the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced a plan to curb the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to treat and fatten up livestock on factory farms. But the mostly voluntary, loophole-riddled “plan” falls far short of what scientists say is needed to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now pose a real and widespread danger to public health.
It’s clear that the FDA isn’t going to regulate away the problem. So who will solve it?
You. By not buying any meat that comes from factory farms. And by encouraging your fast-food restaurant-going friends to at least choose brands that are rejecting meat from animals pumped full of antibiotics.