Your Favorite Burger Chain Probably Failed Its Annual Antibiotics Report Card

A recent report from the nonprofit US Public Interest Research Group has revealed that fast food may, in fact, be as unhealthy as it is convenient.

According to the results of its annual Chain Reaction report, the USPIRG comments that an alarming number of fast food chains that serve beef are using products that are abundantly treated with human antibiotics. Unfortunately, USPIRG public health advocate Laura Deehan argues these drugs are sometimes—perhaps more often than they should—given to animals that show no sign of sickness or disease at all. More importantly, of course, including [abundant] human antibiotics in daily feed for these animals helps to feed drug-resistant superbugs.

As a matter of fact, Shake Shack was the only fast food (burger) chain in Southern California to score an ‘A’ in this study. Another national chain did receive an ‘A’ rating, but BurgerFi has no stores in Southern California.  The only other chain to score a passing grade—and just barely, by the way—was Wendy’s, with a ‘D-‘. That’s right: all other major fast food chains (in Southern California, at least) failed; and yes, that includes a disappointed ‘F’ grade for local SoCal favorite In-N-Out; 22 out of 25 received failing grades. That means your favorite burger chain likely did not pass; here is a list of the ‘F’ grades:

  • McDonald’s
  • Burger King
  • Habit Burger Grill
  • In-N-Out
  • A&W
  • Farmer Boys
  • Rally’s
  • Hardee’s / Carl’s Jur
  • Sonic
  • Jack in the Box
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Checkers
  • Culver’s
  • Steak ‘n’ Shake
  • Freddy’s
  • Whataburger
  • Krystal
  • Smashburger
  • White Castle
  • Fuddrucker’s

In response, the double-double chain issued a statement describing how they closely monitor the progress of the livestock industry in relation to antibiotic use limits in order to ensure the highest possible standard for animal health and welfare. As such, they say, the company is not able to issue a specific timeline which tracks livestock quality.

On the other hand, McDonald’s has issued a statement promising to change their policies and practices, “finalizing a global antibiotics policy” for their beef products.  They plan to announce this new global antibiotics policy before the beginning of 2019.  In defense of McDonald’s, though, they do already ban chicken [products] treated with human antibiotics.

All of this is important, of course, because the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long considered antibiotic resistance among “the biggest public health challenges” of this generation.