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Which Restaurants Serve Antibiotic Free Meat?

Which Restaurants Serve Antibiotic Free Meat?

The availability of chicken raised without antibiotics has increased dramatically in the past few years. However, antibiotics are still routinely given to cows, pigs and turkeys. This excessive antibiotic use in livestock is a major factor in the global antibiotics resistance crisis.  

We can help by purchasing meat raised without antibiotics. We can also choose to eat at restaurants that use antibiotic free meat.  

This article examines the top fast food restaurants policies toward purchasing meat raised without antibiotics.

Which Fast Food Restaurants Serve Meat Raised Without Antibiotics?

We evaluated the antibiotic use policies of popular fast food restaurants, listed below.(1-3)  

What restaurants serve chicken, beef, pork and turkey raised without antibiotics?

Types of Antibiotic Use Policies

Fast food restaurants have a wide range of policies regarding antibiotic use. Some restaurants have progressive policies and have implemented them promptly.

Unfortunately, many restaurants still have no antibiotics use policy.

Source of Antibiotic Policy Information

Restaurants were placed in four categories depending on their antibiotic use policies. Information is from company websites, corporate press releases, reputable news outlets, and Consumer Report’s Chain Reaction Report. (4-31)

Information is from company websites, corporate press releases, reputable news outlets, and Consumer Report’s Chain Reaction Report. (4-31)

The four Antibiotic Use policies are:

No Antibiotic Use Policy

A restaurant has no antibiotic use policy if no public statement on antibiotic use is available.

Also included in this category are companies that state only that they follow all applicable FDA guidelines. (ref)

As of 2017, FDA guidelines require veterinary oversight for medically important antibiotics and eliminates the use of these antibiotics to promote livestock growth.  

However, following the FDA guidance is voluntary and does not address the use of medically important antibiotics disease prevention.

No Medically Important Antibiotics

More than half of the antibiotics given to animals are also used in human medicine.

These antibiotics are considered medically important and sometimes called “human use” antibiotics.

Restaurants in this category source meat that was raised without medically important antibiotics. However, this does not mean that the animals were raised without antibiotics.

Animals raised without medically important antibiotics can still be given antibiotics approved solely for animals to prevent disease, and this usage is known to also contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Therapeutic Antibiotic Use Only

When an animal is sick or is in imminent risk of becoming sick, antibiotics can be used. This type of antibiotic use is considered “therapeutic.”

According to the World Health Organization, this is the only appropriate use of antibiotics in meat producing animals.(31)

Fast food restaurants in this category source meat from animals given antibiotics only if needed to treat an illness.

No Antibiotics Ever

This is the easiest policy to understand.  Food producing animals that were never given antibiotics fall into this category.  

Restaurants in this category serve meat from animals that never came in contact with antibiotics.  

In some cases, the meat is organic, which has multiple requirements, of which one is that the animals are never administered antibiotics.

Restaurant with the Best Antibiotic Policies

Three restaurants have comprehensive antibiotic use policies that are almost fully implemented. If you are looking to eat a meal including meat raised without antibiotics, you will want to go to Panera or Chipotle.

Panera Bread’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Panera serves chicken, pork and turkey raised with "no antibiotics ever."  Additionally, Panera serves grass fed beef that is only given antibiotics if an animal is sick.

Panera serves chicken, pork and turkey raised with “no antibiotics ever.” Additionally, Panera serves grass fed beef that is only given antibiotics if an animal is sick.

It is also worth noting that Panera does not sell food containing any artificial preservatives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors.

Chipotle’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Chipotle serves chicken and beef raised with "no antibiotics ever."

Chipotle serves chicken and beef raised with “no antibiotics ever.”

As of February 2020, half of the pork served by Chipotle is raised with “no antibiotics ever” and the other half is raised without medically important antibiotics.

If you want a fast food taco or burrito from a company with a conscientious antibiotic policy, Chipotle is pretty much the only option for the time being.

Restaurant with good Antibiotic policies

Two restaurants have antibiotic use policies that are pretty good. If you want a burger or chicken sandwich raised without antibiotics, you go to Burgerfi or Chick Fil A. Just make sure to skip the bacon

Burgerfi’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Burgerfi serves chicken and beef raised with "no antibiotics ever."  However, Burgerfi does not have an antibiotics policy for pork.

Burgerfi serves chicken and beef raised with “no antibiotics ever.” However, Burgerfi does not have an antibiotics policy for pork.

So, feel free to enjoy a burger or chicken sandwich at Burgerfi… just skip the bacon.

Chick-fil-A’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Chick-fil-A serves chicken raised with "no antibiotics ever."  However, Chick-fil-A does not have an antibiotics policy for pork.

Chick-fil-A serves chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever.” However, Chick-fil-A does not have an antibiotics policy for pork.

So, feel free to enjoy a meal at Chick-fil-A… just skip the bacon.

These Restaurants Only Serve Antibiotic Free Chicken (not Turkey, Beef, or Pork)

Most restaurant antibiotic policies apply ONLY to chicken. Even if you eat at these restaurants, the meat in a burger or sandwich is still likely raised with antibiotics.

Subway’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Subway serves chicken raised with "no antibiotics ever" and turkey raised without medically important antibiotics.

Subway serves chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever” and turkey raised without medically important antibiotics.

Though Subway’s policy of “no antibiotics” currently only applies to chicken, they are working to extend the policy to all other sources of protein on their menu.

Subway has committed to serving beef and pork raised without medically important antibiotics by 2025. Yes, this is a long time away. However, it is an important commitment that they have made and are working towards.

Dunkin Donut’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Dunkin' Donuts serves chicken raised with "no antibiotics ever".

Dunkin’ Donuts serves chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever”.

However, none of the other meats served by Dunkin’ Donuts are covered by an antibiotics policy. So it is probably best to skip most meat containing menu items from Dunkin’ Donuts.

Jason’s Deli’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Jason's Deli serves chicken raised with "no antibiotics ever".

Jason’s Deli serves chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever”.

However, none of the other meats served by Jason’s Deli are raised without antibiotics. So it is best to skip most meat containing menu items at Jason’s Deli.

Hardees and Carls Jr’s Antibiotic Use Policy

The Hardee's and Carl's Jr family of restaurants serve chicken raised with "no antibiotics ever".

The Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr family of restaurants serve chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever”.

However, none of the other meats served by Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr are covered by an antibiotics policy. So it is probably best to stick with the chicken sandwiches (without bacon) when eating at these fast food restaurants.

Papa John’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Papa John's serves chicken raised with "no antibiotics ever".

Papa John’s serves chicken raised with “no antibiotics ever”.

However, none of the other meats served by Papa John’s are covered by an antibiotics policy. So it is probably best to stick with cheese pizza or only chicken when ordering from Papa John’s.

Restaurants with Minimal Antibiotics Policies

Several fast food restaurants have taken the first step by implementing an antibiotics policy. However, these restaurants still have a long way to go before they can be recommended.

Consider avoiding these restaurants until they adopt, at minimum, comprehensive policies aligned with the WHO Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals for all of the meat they serve. (33)

Burger King’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Burger King sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.  However, Burger King does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

Burger King sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics. However, Burger King does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

You can assume meat from Burger King is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Burger King.

Domino’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Domino's sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.  However, Domino's does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

Domino’s sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics. However, Domino’s does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

You can assume meat on pizzas from Domino’s is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Domino’s.

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Antibiotic Use Policy

KFC sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.

KFC sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.

You can assume chicken from KFC is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at KFC. Chick-fil-A is a good alternative for no antibiotics ever chicken.

Pizza Hut’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Pizza Hut plans to sell chicken raised without medically important antibiotics by 2022.  However, Pizza Hut does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

Pizza Hut plans to sell chicken raised without medically important antibiotics by 2022. However, Pizza Hut does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

You can assume meat from Pizza Hut is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Pizza Hut.

Starbucks Antibiotic Use Policy

Starbucks sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.  However, Starbucks does not have an antibiotics policy for pork or turkey.

Starbucks sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics. However, Starbucks does not have an antibiotics policy for pork or turkey.

You can assume meat from Starbucks is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating non-vegetarian food options at Starbucks.

Taco Bell’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Taco Bell sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics and plans to sell beef raised without medically important antibiotics.  However, Taco Bell does not have an implementation date for its beef policy and has no antibiotics policy for pork.

Taco Bell sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics and plans to sell beef raised without medically important antibiotics. However, Taco Bell does not have an implementation date for its beef policy and has no antibiotics policy for pork.

You can assume meat from Taco Bell is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Taco Bell.

Tim Hortons Antibiotic Use Policy

Tim Hortons sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.  However, Tim Hortons does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

Tim Hortons sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics. However, Tim Hortons does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

You can assume meat from Tim Hortons is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Tim Hortons.

Wendy’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Wendy's sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics.  However, Wendy's does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

Wendy’s sells chicken raised without medically important antibiotics. However, Wendy’s does not have an antibiotics policy for beef or pork.

You can assume meat from Wendy’s is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Wendy’s.

Restaurants with No Antibiotics Policy

Several fast food restaurants have no antibiotics policy in place.

Where we shop and eat is an important economic vote. Avoid purchasing food from these restaurants until they adopt, at minimum, comprehensive policies aligned with the WHO Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals for all the meat they serve. (33)

Five Guys Antibiotic Use Policy

Five Guys does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Five Guys does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Five Guys is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Five Guys.

Arby’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Arby's does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Arby’s does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Arby’s is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Arby’s.

Dairy Queen’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Dairy Queen does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Dairy Queen does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Dairy Queen is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Dairy Queen.

Jack in the Box’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Jack in the Box does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Jack in the Box does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Jack in the Box is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Jack in the Box.

Little Caesar’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Little Caesar's does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Little Caesar’s does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Little Caesar’s is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Little Caesar’s.

Moe’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Moe's does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Moe’s does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Moe’s is from animals fed antibiotics. Go to Chipotle for a healthier taco and burrito alternative.

Popeyes Antibiotic Use Policy

Popeyes does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Popeyes does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Popeyes is from animals fed antibiotics. Go to Chick-fil-A for a healthier alternative.

Qdoba’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Qdoba does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Qdoba does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Qdoba is from animals fed antibiotics. Go to Chipotle for a healthier alternative.

Sonic’s Antibiotic Use Policy

Sonic does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

Sonic does not have a publicly available antibiotic policy.

You can assume meat from Sonic is from animals fed antibiotics. It is best to avoid eating at Sonic.

Final thoughts on Restaurants Antibiotic Use Policies

It is encouraging that so many fast food companies are working to source chicken raised without antibiotics, or at least with reduced levels of antibiotics.

However, chicken is just the first step. Most restaurants still source meat from cows, pigs, and turkeys that are routinely fed antibiotics. 

Hopefully other fast food chains will follow the lead of Panera and Chipotle and remove antibiotics from all the meat they serve.

Pin for future:

Which fast food restaurants serve antibiotic free meat?

References:

  1. The 20 Most Successful Fast Food Chains Right Now, Business Insider, 2017 (link)
  2. Top 10 Global Fast Food Brands, Forbes (link)
  3. America’s Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants, Health (link)
  4. Chain Reaction V, How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Antibiotic Use in their Beef Supplies, October 2019, Consumer Reports Website (link)
  5. Arby’s Website (link)
  6. Burgerfi Website (link)
  7. Burger King, Reuters Website (link)
  8. Carl’s Jr / Hardees Press Release (link)
  9. Chick-fil-A Website (link)
  10. Chipotle Website (link)
  11. Dairy Queen Website (link)
  12. Domino’s Website (link)
  13. Dunkin’ Donuts Press Release (link)
  14. Five Guys Website (link)
  15. Jack In The Box Website (link)
  16. Jason’s Deli Website (link)
  17. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Press Release (link)
  18. Little Caesars Website (link)
  19. McDonalds Website (link)
  20. Moes, Focus Brands Website (link)
  21. Panera Bread’s Food Policy Statement, 2014, Panera Website (link)
  22. Papa Johns Press Release (link)
  23. Pizza Hut Press Release (link)
  24. Popeyes, Reuters Website (link)
  25. Qdoba, Jack In The Box Website (link)
  26. Sonic, Meat and Poultry News Website (link)
  27. Starbucks Press Release (link)
  28. Subway Press Release (link)
  29. Taco Bell Press Release (link)
  30. Tim Hortons, Reuters Website (link)
  31. Wendy’s Website (link)
  32. FDA Guidance for Industry (GFI #213), FDA Website (link)
  33. Antibiotic Resistance, World Health Organization Website (link)

This post was originally published on August 28, 2017.  Antibiotic use policies are up to date as of February 19, 2020.  Also, we reformatted images to improve readability.

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Jane Porterfield

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

Thanks for this informative article. I have 2 questions that are incredibly important to me, because I have a life-threatening allergy to 2 specific classes of antibiotics: fluoroquinolones and quinolones.

1. The "note" at the bottom of the article states:

Note: This post was originally published on August 28, 2017. Current antibiotic use policies have been updated on March 3, 2018. Images have also been reformatted to improve readability.

DOES THAT MEAN that what I'm reading here is all of these restaurants' policies as of Mar, 2018?

2. I know that both fluoroquinolones and quinolones are used routinely in both human medicine, and in farming, in the U.S. Can I safely assume that the restaurants listed in the "no human antibiotics" section of the chart that lists "current antibiotic use policies for chicken" are safe for me (so long as those restaurants are, in fact, following their own published policies?)

I also want the writer of this article to know about Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability, a disease that's on the rise exponentially, and is being predicted to rise at meteoric exponential rates in the near future. I have this disease, and more needs to be written about it!

Finally, the crisis of antibiotic resistance is receiving its due in the public eye, and for helping with that, I sincerely THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE! Unfortunately, it became a global threat to health that is now holding nearly insurmountable challenges to defeat, because of the propaganda of the antibiotics manufacturers and other special interests.

I am on a quest to see how I can help prevent this same problem happening with Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability. If the author or any interested party reads this, please feel free to contact me for more information on Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability, and for a list of legitimate sources of information about it, at [email protected] or [email protected]

Thanks again.

Meredith

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Jane -

Thank you for this very thoughtful comment and for bringing Fluoroquinolone Associated Disability to my attention.

To answer your specific questions: 1. I have recently updated this post and the information for the restaurants is accurate as of February 2020. 2. Regarding avoiding protein from animals raised with fluoroquinolones and quinolones, I think the only safe alternative is to eat animal protein certified as "no antibiotics ever". The post has been updated to clearly state which restaurants fall within this category.

Thank you for your questions and insightful comments!

Sherice

Monday 18th of June 2018

Thanks for the article! Really great info - curious if you have any information on whether these restaurants use hormones in their chicken?

Meredith

Monday 18th of June 2018

Hi Sherice - this is a great question. Chickens (like all animals, including humans) have naturally occurring hormones which they produce throughout life. However, the FDA does NOT allow chicken farmers to use synthetic hormones when raising or growing chickens. Specifically, "no steroid hormone implants are approved for growth purposes in dairy cows, veal calves, pigs, or poultry." (Reference: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm055436.htm). Thank you for your question! Meredith