Strong progress nonetheless was made across the top 25 fast-food and casual dining retailers, suggesting that public pressure has helped slow the meat and poultry industry's routine use of antibiotics that are critical to human health, according to the report released Tuesday by five consumer, environmental and public health groups.
“I think it shows consumers are driving change in how meat is produced,” said the report’s lead author, Sasha Stashwick, senior advocate for food and agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Routinely feeding antibiotics to animals raised for food has been linked to the surge in resistant strains of bacteria that cause human illnesses, which adds about 23,000 additional deaths annually and boosts healthcare costs by $55m, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Subway, which last year received an F rating in the report’s inaugural edition, rose to a B for its commitment announced earlier this year to eliminate antibiotics across its entire menu. Last year, the restaurant chain did not even respond to the survey and did not offer public details of its antibiotics policies, the groups reported. Starbucks, which again earned an F rating, has maintained a similar silence for two years running.
McDonald’s rose a half grade, to C-plus in the wake of its decision earlier this year to eliminated antibiotics from its chicken supply.
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