Redefining our Food Choices – Where Does Your Favorite Fast Food Chain Score?
When I was a kid it was a real treat for my brother, sisters and I to go to the local Tastee Freeze and blissfully down hamburgers, fries, and milk shakes. In college, I stopped eating meat out of concern for the animals slaughtered to produce it. Sadly that meant I gave up eating at a lot of fast food chains. I didn’t eat meat again until I volunteered with the Peace Corps and lived in a rural community in Southern Africa where I could see the value of farm animals to rural diets.
Today I no longer blissfully eat meat without a thought to where it comes from. I try to choose meat from animals that have been humanly raised and not fed routine antibiotics. Which means often times fast food chains don’t make the list.
Despite some recent progress, most major fast food chains fail when it comes to meeting customer demand for meat raised without routine antibiotics. FACT along with the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Keep Antibiotics Working and the Natural Resources Defense Council released a report ranking the top 25 fast food chains in the US. Most of the companies either had no policy on antibiotic use by their suppliers or had policies that allowed their suppliers to routinely use antibiotics in the animals they raise.
Here is what we found:
- Only five companies, Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts had polices that scored above an F.
- Of those five, Chipotle and Panera currently purchase a significant portion of their meat from farms where routine antibiotic use is prohibited.
- McDonalds and Chik-fil-A have made time bound commitments to begin serving chicken raised without antibiotics but it is still a work in progress for both companies.
- Dunkin’ Donuts has a good policy posted on their website but has not set a timeline for their suppliers.
- Subway has made recent statements to the media about adopting a similar policy to Chik-fil-A or McDonald’s on chicken, but still received a F because they have not made a formal announcement and have been unwilling to answer questions about their antibiotics policies.
Given the dire consequences on human and animal health from the spread of antibiotic resistance, any steps taken by food businesses to reduce antibiotic overuse are appreciated and FACT will continue to applaud them for it. However, is not enough.
FACT will continue to work with the companies to get them to adopt and implement better policies. This includes making sure that they provide as much information as possible about their suppliers and the antibiotics they use. As part of this effort, we sent the report to the companies along with a letter signed by over 100 organizations asking them to adopt better antibiotic polices. If companies take clear steps to reduce antibiotic overuse by their suppliers their scores will rise when we update the report next year.
These days, I do eat at Panera and Chipotle when I am travelling. My kids get to blissfully down hamburgers, fries, and lemonades at Fat Patties, a local burger joint that sells grass-fed beef, pork, and bison from neighboring farms.
Remember that you can help change the food system by voting with your fork every day! The food choices you make have a significant impact on the welfare of farm animals across the country. Your purchases let retailers and producers know that consumers are interested in humanely raised food products.
Visit FACT’s Humane Choices page for more information!