1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

McDonald’s, Panera, Chipotle and other chains got graded on beef. Which got Fs?

The annual Chain Reaction survey monitoring antibiotic use in fast food and fast casual chains was just released. Most fail when it comes to beef.
President Donald Trump talks to the media about the table full of fast food in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, for the reception for the Clemson Tigers. [PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP TALKS TO THE MEDIA ABOUT THE TABLE FULL OF FAST FOOD IN THE STATE DINING ROOM OF THE WHITE HOUSE IN WASHINGTON, MONDAY, JAN. 14, 2019, FOR THE RECEPTION FOR THE CLEMSON TIGERS. (AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH]
Published Oct. 31

Of the 21 fast-food and fast-casual restaurants graded on their use of beef raised with antibiotics, the vast majority failed with grades of F. Only one, Chipotle, got an A.

The grades were released Thursday in the fifth-annual Chain Reaction survey. For the last five years, a group of food safety and environmental advocacy groups have banded together to rate the top 25 (by sales) fast-food and fast-casual restaurants in the U.S. The surveys cover overall antibiotic use in pork, chicken, turkey and beef, previously highlighting chicken. This year beef was selected. In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that cattle accounted for 42 percent of all medically important antibiotic sales to the U.S.

Four of the top 25 don’t use beef, so they weren’t graded.

Surveys were sent to the restaurants and they were graded based on existing policies, implementation of those policies, and transparency about antibiotic use. Publicly available information like company websites, annual reports and corporate sustainability reports were factored into grades and solely used if restaurants didn’t return surveys. Survey responses only counted for a portion of the overall grades.

Chipotle was the only restaurant to get an A, while Panera got an A-minus. Subway and McDonald’s both got Cs, Wendy’s got a D-plus and Taco Bell a D. Burger King, Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut, Applebee’s, IHOP, Domino’s Pizza, Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic, Little Caesar’s, Starbucks, Arby’s, Panda Express and Chili’s all got Fs.

The annual Chain Reaction survey results were released Thursday. [Consumer Reports]

Ten of the top 25 restaurants, including Starbucks, Olive Garden, and Sonic, didn’t return survey results.

Wendy’s was dubbed the “biggest wanna-be” for publicizing efforts to reduce antibiotic use but failing to adequately implement any policies. McDonald’s, the single-largest supplier of beef, was called the “Biggest Mooover” for reducing antibiotic usage enough to go from an F last year to a C this year.

According to the report, a major issue is a lack of transparency in reporting practices and too few restaurants going beyond lax federal regulations governing antibiotic usage.

Many cattle producers feed animals antibiotics to prevent illness in crowded conditions, the report said, but that often leads to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that the World Health Organization said is creating a global health concern.


  1. FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2017 file photo, Kodak Black arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif. The rapper has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to weapons charges stemming from his arrest just before a scheduled concert performance in May. The 22-year-old admitted in August that he falsified information on federal forms to buy four firearms from a Miami-area gun shop on two separate occasions. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File) JORDAN STRAUSS  |  Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    The sentence was far less than the maximum 10-year sentence he could have received.
  2. Career Foreign Service officer George Kent, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Kent was one of the most high-ranking career officials who had knowledge about elements of the alleged White House effort.
  3. Career Foreign Service officer George Kent, center in bowtie, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP
    Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent are scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
  4. In this Amber Alert made available by the Jacksonville, Fla., Police, shows an undated photo of Taylor Williams. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, authorities in Alabama say they have found human remains while searching in the woods for Williams. The child was reported missing from her Jacksonville, Fla., home last Wednesday. (Jacksonville Police via AP) AP
    Taylor Rose Williams’ mother, who said her daughter disappeared from home overnight, was charged with child neglect and giving false information to investigators, according to investigators.
  5. DACA recipients including Greisa Martinez Rosa, right of center in red dress, and others leave the Supreme Court with their hands in the air after oral arguments were heard in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at the Supreme Court in Washington. ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    The program currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are here illegally.
  6. Alex Trebeka speaks at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center on Sunday, April 30, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. On Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, Trebek announced that he's on a leave of absence from "Jeopardy" after undergoing brain surgery for blood clots - medically known as subdural hematoma - that were "caused by a fall I endured two months ago." [Photo by Chris Pizzello | Invision | AP]
    Tournament of Champions contestant Dhruv Gaur decided to sacrifice his Final Jeopardy answer to send the host a loving message: #weloveyouAlex.
  7. The three Taliban figures were under the custody of the Afghan government, Ghani said, and were held at the Bagram prison, an air base that also houses U.S. troops just outside Kabul.
  8. Smoke rises after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza early Tuesday in a resumption of pinpointed targeting that threatens a fierce round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) HATEM MOUSSA  |  AP
    The Israeli strike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife, setting off a furious barrage of Gaza-fired rockets that reached as far as the Tel Aviv
  9. Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting President Donald Trump, in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. JOSE LUIS MAGANA                         |  AP
    House committees will determine whether President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden’s family and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  10. In this Sept. 29, 2007 file photo, co-host Vanna White and host Pat Sajak make an appearance at Radio City Music Hall for a taping of celebrity week on "Wheel of Fortune" in New York. Sajak had to have emergency surgery, and his longtime sidekick Vanna White is filling in as host while he recovers. The show says on its social media accounts that the Thursday. Nov. 7, 2019, taping was canceled as the 73-year-old Sajak underwent successful emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine. PETER KRAMER  |  AP
    73-year-old Sajak underwent a successful procedure on a blocked intestine.