Fast food antibiotic grades leave bad taste for burger fans

GLENDALE, Calif. -- There are times when a fast food hamburger is just what your stomach and schedule need. But a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group may make that burger choice a bit harder to swallow.

At a news conference staged in front of a Los Angeles McDonald's, representatives for the nonprofit advocacy group USPIRG unveiled the results of its annual Chain Reaction report.

It slams McDonald's and practically every other fast food chain for using beef from animals USPIRG says are over-treated with human antibiotics.

"In many cases, these drugs are being given to animals that aren't even sick," said Laura Deehan, a public health advocate for the group. "That routine use every single day in their feed is what can really help feed drug-resistant super bugs."

Shake Shack is the only fast food chain found in Southern California that scored an A in the study. Wendy's earned a D-. All the others failed, scoring F's, including local favorite In-N-Out.

In-N-Out responded to the findings in a written statement.

"We continue to closely monitor progress in the livestock industry related to limiting the use of antibiotics while ensuring a high standard for animal health and welfare. At this time we are not able to provide a specific timeline," it said.

But McDonald's is promising change soon, saying it "is currently finalizing a global antibiotics policy for beef, to be announced before the end of 2018."

And in McDonald's defense, the chain already bans chicken treated with human antibiotics.

But USPIRG says until more fast food chains start taking the antibiotic threat seriously, tens of thousands of Americans are falling victim to bacteria that is no longer affected by the latest treatments.

"There were more than 2 million antibiotic resistant infections in the U.S. last year and 23,000 people died," Deehan said.
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