See How Your Favorite Restaurants Rank On Antibiotic Use

Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Antibiotics may not be the first things that come to mind when you're picking out a lunch spot, but the way restaurants use these drugs can have a huge impact on your health. And according to a new report, some restaurants do much better with this than others.

The report, released by advocacy organization Friends of the Earth in cooperation with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Food Safety, among other groups, grades chain restaurants based on their policies regarding antibiotic use in animals. Each restaurant was graded on several criteria, including whether they had a policy in place at all regarding antibiotics, how many types of meat it applied to, and whether or not the policy was easily available online.

Burrito bowl addicts will be pleased to know that Chipotle tied with Panera for the highest grade (97% of possible points). While McDonald's got a C grade (better than it could have been, thanks to a recent push to eliminate its use of human antibiotics in chicken), Chick-Fil-A managed to pull out a B. Smaller chains like Shake Shack and Pacific Northwest favorite Burgerville also got honorable mentions. The remaining 20 chains (including Starbucks, Burger King, and KFC) got big fat Fs.

The companies that had antibiotic-related policies also tended to report having third-party audits to ensure those policies were being followed. So, these grades are a measure of the chains' ideals and how much they care about actually living up to those lofty goals. And they could very well change in the near future. For instance, Papa John's told Buzzfeed the company is planning to prohibit the use of antibiotics in the chicken on their pizzas next year.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain, antibiotics kill most of the potentially harmful bacteria hanging around in the guts of livestock. But a small amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria can survive and are left to multiply and spread into the environment, eventually reaching humans (even if they don't eat meat). This can cause some scary stuff, like MRSA infections, and stopping it has become a priority for the White House.

So keeping track of how we use these drugs in animals — and making sure it's only done when absolutely necessary — is an important part of keeping everyone healthy, no matter what they're eating.
Image: Courtesy of Friends of the Earth.
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