IT’s a noble cause — reducing the use of antibiotics in farm animals in an effort to curb antibiotic resistance. However, assigning McDonald’s a “C” grade, as opposed to the “A” and “A-” earned by Chipotle and Panera Bread, is proof that there is no satisfying Consumer Reports.
About five years ago, six consumer groups that included Consumer Reports set forth on a journey to reduce antibiotic use in food animals. The initial targets were chicken and beef. While the consumer advocate organizations contend a great deal of progress has been made with poultry, they say it has been slow going with beef.
That “snail-paced” progress report comes with a heavy dose of “love” for its poster-child restaurants. In extolling the virtues of Chipotle and Panera Bread . . . “both companies serve beef and chicken raised without antibiotics and have third parties conduct at least some audits of their practices.”
In its “Chain Reaction V” report, the six-party consortium further contends that the beef sector falls short by claiming that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and its Beef Quality Assurance program doesn’t go far enough. “The BQA program recommends that certified farms keep records of antibiotic use and develop treatment protocols for antibiotic use that are consistent with broad principles of antibiotic stewardship,” is written in the report.
While reasonable standards to those of us who raise livestock, that’s just not enough for Consumer Reports. The organization recommends that consumers seek out USDA Certified Organic, American Grassfed, Certified Humane, and Animal Welfare Approved labels. Absent of that, consumers should look for “No Antibiotics Administered,” “No Antibiotics Added,” or “Raised Without Antibiotics.”
It’s no wonder consumers get confused about the food they eat with that litany of recommendations.
We agree with Consumer Reports on one point — we applaud McDonald’s for implementing an antibiotic-use strategy. However, this is where we part ways . . . as we commend the world’s largest beef buyer for working via conventional channels to document reduced antibiotic use by encouraging preventative medicine strategies, good farm hygiene practices, and sound animal husbandry and vaccination programs.
We give McDonald’s an “A” for their responsible and reasonable commitment to curb antibiotic use. Not only does that make more practical sense, it also assures both a safe and affordable food supply for budget-minded consumers.