This 2nd annual Chain Reaction report ranks the top 25 U.S. restaurant chains on their antibiotics policies. Antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis, driven largely by overuse and misuse of antibiotics. In fact, the United Nations will meet tomorrow to discuss the issue and commit to specific actions. But, political conversations too often focus on identifying ways to reduce overuse of antibiotics in human health. There is significantly less willingness to tackle their overuse in animals raised for food, despite the fact that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are marketed to animals. That is why activists and consumers have rallied together to engage the restaurant industry and encourage companies to reduce the use of antibiotics in their supply chains.
Companies are responding. Since last year, Subway, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Papa John’s have all announced some commitment to address routine use of antibiotics. A few have even begun putting their new policies into action. McDonald’s, who in 2015 announced plans to eliminate routine use of medically-important antibiotics in their chicken, converted 100% of their chicken supply to comply with their policy this year. All in all, 9 companies received passing grades this year, compared to 4 in last year’s report. That still leaves 16 companies that have taken no public action to date to address antibiotics use by their meat and poultry suppliers. Clearly, there is much work to be done to continue moving the industry and eliminating the routine use of antibiotics in food animals.