Antibiotic overuse is resulting in a crisis of antibiotic resistance and is changing the microbiome of our children – the vibrant microscopic world that lives on, in, and around their growing bodies.
Antibiotic overuse makes all of us less safe, and children are among the most vulnerable. Already, more than 2 million Americans get an antibiotic-resistant infection each year. Around 23,000 people will die from these infections.
Many people don’t know that the great majority of unnecessary antibiotic use is for increasing the weight gain of meat or poultry animals or otherwise giving antibiotics routinely to animals that are not sick. 70-80% of all antibiotics given in the US are given this way! In factory farms, not doctor’s offices or hospitals.
Antibiotic Scorecard: A Lever for Change
American’s eat out. A lot. And the top 25 restaurant chains have huge influence over how animals are raised. Farmers grow what these restaurants buy.
The choices that families make when eating out could change the game faster and more effectively than any government policy. We can make the routine use of antibiotics in animals a bad business decision.
To this end, a group of public interest organizations have joined together to create an antibiotic Scorecard. You can read their whole Chain Reaction report below, but here are the highlights.
The Antibiotic Scorecard
Only two restaurants scored an A: Chipotle and Panera (reward them!)
Only one restaurant scored a B: Chick-fil-A (20% of their chicken currently raised with no antibiotics, committed to getting to 100% by 2019)
Only two restaurants scored a C: McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts (policy changes in place for the future)
Twenty restaurants scored an F on their meat and poultry: Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s Pizza, Starbuck’s, Olive Garden, Papa John’s Pizza, Taco Bell, KFC, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse, Little Caesar’s, and Sonic. (I hope they all score better on next year’s annual antibiotic Scorecard. If we spread the word, I bet many of them will. Pay attention).
Antibiotic Scorecard Local Favorites
A number of smaller or regional chains offer meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics (or hormones). Some of them have organic or grass-fed options. They are not on the antibiotic Scorecard because they are not among the top 25 chains, but they can still be important levers for change:
Shake Shack (no antibiotics or hormones)
Elevation Burger (only 100% organic, grass-fed, no antibiotics or hormones)
BurgerFi (all grass-fed, without antibiotics or hormones)
Burgerville (no antibiotics or hormones)
BGR (no antibiotics or hormones used in their beef)
Farmer Boys (no antibiotics or hormones used in their beef)
Pret A Manger (chicken, turkey, and pork raised without routine antibiotics)
Good Times Burger (chicken and beef without antibiotics, beef without hormones)
Carl’s Jr. (1st national chain with a grass-fed burger without antibiotics, steroids, or other hormones)
… to Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Keep Antibiotics Working, Consumers Union, Cameron Harsh Center for Food Safety, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future – for the part you played in putting together this important report and strategy
…to those who choose to Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much
…and to all parents who spread the word and use this strategy to help make a better (microscopic) world for all of our children.