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Top Burger Chains Get Failing Marks on Antibiotics

Only 2 of 25 national chains have strong policies on antibiotics in sourced beef, report finds.

Maybe when people order a hamburger, they should be asked, “Would you like some antibiotics with that?” In a collaborative report from several organizations, including the National Resources Defence Council and Consumer Reports, only two out of 25 fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains—Shake Shack and BurgerFi—received an A for their policies on antibiotics in beef used in their burgers. The vast majority—including heavy hitters like McDonald’s and Burger King—got a resounding F.

Eateries were graded on whether they were crafting policies to end routine use of antibiotics and how they were implementing those policies. The authors made efforts to verify whether companies’ claims were true.

The fact that only two venues are sizzling up antibiotic-free beef patties is cause for concern. A continuing worry is that overusing antibiotics in livestock production could be contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Editor’s note: In December 2018, McDonald’s announced that it will measure antibiotic use in its top 10 beef markets, including the U.S., Brazil and New Zealand—and will then set targets for reduction by the end of 2020.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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