Pressure for restaurant chains to reduce or eliminate meat and poultry raised with antibiotics continues, as a newly published report that evaluated the 25 largest quick-service and fast-casual restaurant chains in the U.S. for their policies concerning antibiotics gave a passing grade to only five chains.

The report, Chain Reaction: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Use of Antibiotics in Their Meat Supply, was prepared by a coalition of groups, including Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Keep antibiotics Working and Center for Food Safety. The report was prepared as concerns grow about the potential link between antibiotic use in animal agriculture and antibiotic resistance.

The CEOs of all 25 restaurant chains listed in the report were sent a letter, signed by 109 organizations, urging them to eliminate the routine use of antibiotics in their meat supply.

Restaurants with passing grades

The report evaluated the restaurant chains and gave them grades, similar to those students would receive in school.

Panera Bread and Chipotle, well-known for their strict antibiotics policies, and have publicly affirmed that the majority of their meat and poultry is produced without routine use of antibiotics, were the only two companies to receive an A grade.

Chick-fil-A was the only chain to receive a B grade. That company in February 2014 announced its plan to move to serving chicken raised without any antibiotics within the next five years.


Earning a C grade were McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. McDonald’s on March 4 announced that within the next two years it would eliminate chicken that was raised with antibiotics deemed important to human medicine. Dunkin’ Donuts, according to the report, has a policy covering limited antibiotic use in all of the meats it serves, but no timeline has been given.

No companies received a D grade.

Restaurants with failing grades

The remaining U.S. restaurant chains evaluated in the report were given an F in the report. Those chains include Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Starbucks, Olive Garden, Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Applebee’s, Sonic, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse and Little Caesars.

However, some of those restaurant chains to receive failing grades have started a move in the direction of serving meat and poultry raised without antibiotics.

Several weeks ago, Subway announced it would switch to serving chicken raised without antibiotics used in human medicine within two years. It is also exploring antibiotic-free options in turkey and ham it serves.

Also, Wendy’s announced in July that it is testing the sale of antibiotic-free chicken at restaurants in four regional markets.