Antibiotics in Chicken - ©

U.S. Fast Food Chains Failing On Antibiotics

A new report from the U.S. Consumers Union and the Natural Resources Defense Council says the majority of American Fast Food chains are failing on their commitment to go antibiotic-free.The message, here, is an announcement and a commitment don’t make such a change a done deal…

McDs Antibiotic Free - © Consumers International

The report, titled Chain Reaction II, decries the failure of fast Food Chains to come through on their commitments – or even make a commitment – to go antibiotic-free. It’s the second in a series of such overviews designed to showcase antibiotic use in Fast Food menu items and track the progress of the chains in eliminating the drugs from their meat products.

Here are the grades the report gives the most popular U.S. Fast Food joins for 2016; that is, as of last week:

2016 Antibiotic Score Card - © Consumers Union

Note that many of these chains also operate in Canada. Their respective c0mmitments to go antibiotic free in Canada may vary from their U.S. promises. It’s my personal perception that the chains are doing somewhat better in Canada than they are in the U.S. on banning antibiotics. But I can’t find a study similar to the U.S. Consumer’s Union survey for comparison.

The problem

The problem with antibiotics is that widespread use in agriculture and overuse in humans is causing an upsurge in the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria  which are a real threat to us all. According to the report, these germs sicken two million Americans each year and some 20,000 die.

Clearly, the problem is much bigger than the fast Food industry. But Fast Food is a major player and reaches huge numbers of consumers.

To be fair, some major chains which have announced commitments to ban antibiotics won’t fully phase in their programs until next year or later. there’s a good reason for this. When you’re McDonald’s and you use millions and millions of pounds of chicken and beef every year, it takes a major effort and considerable time for you and your suppliers to re-tool your operations.


I say, take the wider view and give fast Food chains a break. And be prepared for a slight but noticeable increase in prices due to this change.

~ Maggie J.