Let’s face it: Nothing beats the convenience of a fast-food chain on days when you are short on time or just want a burger in all its greasy glory.
The good news is that fast food restaurants can be included in a healthy diet, especially if you are conscious about companies that go above and beyond to source beef for their burgers. “When the only alternative is fast food, some options are superior than others when it comes to selecting high-quality meats,” notes nutrition and dietitian coach Jennie Dore
The overuse of antibiotics in livestock raised for food is the most common problem when it comes to fast-food beef. Antibiotic resistance results as a consequence of this, causing a slew of public health issues. In fact, according to their website, the WHO considers antibiotic resistance one of today’s “most serious threats to food security, global health, and development.”
So, who is the leader in quality beef? Dore claims that chains that take additional precautions, undergo regular inspections, and limit additives proudly display this extra diligence on their website and marketing.
We can also trust the US Public Interest Research Groups’ (PIRG) Chain Reaction scorecard, which grades fast-food chains on their antibiotic policies and doles out letters A to F for each one.
“Grading the businesses is critical since it allows consumers to know which chains are doing the right things so they are able to support them, and which chains are not,” said Matthew Wellington.
He adds that the 2021 scorecard revealed that fast-food firms must push their beef suppliers even harder to avoid overuse of antibiotics. “If more businesses take a stand against meat produced via routine antibiotic usage, it will help move the sector away from this harmful practice.”
PIRG’s report also mentions a number of smaller regional beef suppliers with excellent antibiotic management. Wellington claims they didn’t evaluate these businesses, but they included a brief section on their progress to demonstrate that it is feasible to obtain beef raised without antibiotics.
Here are the fast-food restaurants that make a point of serving antibiotic-free beef.
1 — Chipotle
Chipotle is the class president with an “A” on the scoreboard. It was the only company examined by PIRG that makes suppliers track antibiotic usage and informs its clients about it. The study claims, “Chipotle forbids suppliers from putting antibiotics on beef supplied to restaurants, so the chain’s reported use of antibiotics in beef is zero.”
2 — Panera
Panera, like Chipotle, has an ‘A’ rating. The chain was already serving chicken raised without antibiotics in 2004, according to PIRG’s study. Panera’s suppliers now keep track of antibiotic usage in beef, according to the report. It also shows that they don’t provide Panera with the information. Is this something for the future?
3 — Shake Shack
Shake Shack received an A from PIRG in 2018, and the current report praises the restaurant for remaining a leader in the antibiotic-free beef movement among national burger restaurants. Shake Shack proudly highlights its US Animal Welfare Policies on its website and sources only beef that is antibiotic-free for its burgers.
4 — BurgerFi
For years in a row, BurgerFi has received high ratings for its position on antibiotic-free beef.
“At BurgerFi, we’re dedicated to giving our customers the finest restaurant experience possible by utilizing the highest-quality ingredients,” the company stated. “All of our burgers are made with 100 percent American Angus beef that has been raised without steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals, or additives.”
5 — B.Good
B.Good, a Boston-based restaurant with several locations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas is mentioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Chain Reaction scorecard as well. According to the chain’s site, B.Good maintains a long list of ingredients that are forbidden from their food—including hormones, antibiotics, and artificial preservatives—among other things.