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Meat quality is something fast-food customers are starting to wise up about, especially when it comes to how those convenient meals are affecting their health.
According to Certified Nutritionist and Celebrity Chef Serena Poon, “meat used in fast-food burgers usually comes from industrial farms, and is laden with antibiotics. You also can’t be sure which cuts of meat you’re consuming.”
When it comes to determining the quality of beef, a good starting point is the annual Chain Reaction scorecard from the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), which assigns letter grades to fast-food chains based on their policies (and actions) on antibiotic use in the beef they serve. Policies on antibiotic use are, quite frankly, all over the place when it comes to these restaurants. Some brands have downright progressive policies, others make promises they never deliver on, while some choose to stay completely silent on the topic.
And while quite a few chains have taken a stand against antibiotic use in their chicken, far fewer are following suit when it comes to beef and pork (for the simple fact that cows and pigs live longer, and are therefore more prone to sickness.)
Why exactly does this matter? The overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a huge factor in the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) can lead to serious illness and death. In fact, in a 2013 report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was estimated that more than two million Americans get sick every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result.
Here’s a look at the fast-food chains that have gotten the lowest grades for the quality of the beef they serve.