Twenty-two of the top 25 burger chains in the United States—including McDonald’s, Burger King, and White Castle—received failing grades in a review assessing their policies on antibiotics use in their meat supply chains. The review, which was published last week by six public-interest groups and led by the US PIRG Education Fund, highlights the lack of progress in the beef industry in addressing animal welfare and antibiotic use. Currently, farmers give antibiotics to healthy cattle to compensate for stressful, crowded, and unsanitary conditions on industrial farms where the animals spend most of their lives. Approximately 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the US are used on farmed animals, but public health experts warn that this widespread use is rendering antibiotics less effective and contributing to the creation and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—often known as superbugs. “Restaurants need to demand antibiotic restrictions from their beef suppliers,” Matt Wellington, US PIRG Education Fund antibiotics program director, said. “We simply cannot afford to lose life-saving medicines to produce a slightly cheaper burger.” According to both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, superbugs are among the top threats to global public health.
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