Have you ever wondered what that fast food burger was really made of? Or whether the nuggets your kids crave are really chicken? Do you prefer restaurants that are committed to using produce grown organically and livestock raise humanely? Do you consider the quantity of pesticides that may be in the food you order, or the hormones and antibiotics in the meat you eat?
There is growing evidence that the use of antibiotics in livestock is contributing to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria within the human community. This is bad news, says Ben Tinker, for physicians and other health care providers who are faced with appropriately treating both common and uncommon — mild and severe — bacterial infections.
The CDC estimates at least 2 million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and that 23,000 die as a result.
“A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century,” the WHO cautioned in a 2014 report.
A new study, sponsored by six public health, environmental, and consumer organizations, ranks 25 of the top fast food and “fast casual” chain restaurants and their antibiotic use policies:
Each restaurant was graded on its antibiotics use policies, including the strength of the policy and whether it applies to all types of meat; its implementation of policies, including the estimated availability of meat produced without routine antibiotics; and transparency about its policies, including third-party audits, whether its policy was listed online and whether it responded to the survey. The authors reached out to restaurants in person, via email or via traditional mail. The total number of possible points was based on the restaurant’s menu offerings.
All but five restaurants received failing grades. Only two — Chipotle and Panera — received “A”‘s. Most restaurants included in the report card are taking steps to improve their policies.
In the meantime, it’s always good to ask yourself, “What’s in this food, anyway?”
Which brings us to the issue of genetically modified organisms — GMO’s. We’ll address that subject in the coming weeks.