Blog Posts By:

Matt Wellington,
Director, Public Health Campaigns

It’s a good sign when fast food companies are racing to announce initiatives to improve their health policies and one-up the competition. That’s why I’m glad to see another announcement from a restaurant, this time the home of the Whopper, to limit antibiotics use. However, Burger King’s announcement falls short not only of what needs to be done to address a major public health crisis, but also of what its industry peers have done.

Here’s a holiday present for us all. Jack in the Box Inc., which also owns Qdoba Mexican Eats, committed to eliminating the routine use of antibiotics from its poultry supply by 2020. On behalf of those working to protect public health, I extend a warm thank you to the company’s leadership.

Researchers from The Ohio State University published a report today about the discovery of E-coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic carbapenem in an Ohio swine facility. Uh oh.

Subway recently confirmed that it will ring in the New Year serving chicken raised without antibiotics. Turkey, pork, and beef will follow. Kudos to the “eat fresh” brand for making this happen and for hitting their first timeline.

Yesterday I was in Orlando, Florida to present a shareholder resolution on antibiotics to Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, Yard House and LongHorn Steakhouse, among other casual dining chains. I presented the resolution on behalf of Green Century Equity Fund and its investors. Darden corporate management was vehemently opposed to the resolution, which simply called for its chains to serve meat from farms that do not misuse antibiotics by routinely given them to livestock and poultry, even when the animals are not sick. It sounds like a no-brainer, and it should be.

On Tuesday, July 19th U.S. PIRG and its state partners are holding coordinated actions to engage more health professionals in challenging major restaurant chains to push the meat industry away from misusing antibiotics. On this day, in front of hospitals nationwide, there will be volunteers asking doctors and nurses to sign onto a letter of support and participate in a photo petition that urges more major restaurants like KFC to establish good antibiotics policies.

A new strain of resistant E. Coli bacteria was found on a Chinese pig farm last November, then in countries worldwide. Last week, the U.S. joined that list. Now, a hypothetical post-antibiotic era has become all-too real.