McDonald's, Burger King, Five Guys given "F" over antibiotics

(CBS) -- Twenty-two of the top 25 U.S. burger chains received a failing grade in a review assessing their practices and policies on antibiotics use in their beef products, CBS reported.

McDonald's, Burger King, White Castle and Five Guys are among the chains with failing grades. Only two chains were given an "A" rating. Those were Shake Shack and BurgerFi. "Both companies currently serve only beef raised without antibiotics," the report "Chain Reaction IV: Burger Edition," said. It was published by the Center for Food Safety, Consumer Reports, Food Animal Concerns Trust, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Friends of the Earth and Natural Resources Defense Council. titled "Chain Reaction IV: Burger Edition.

Wendy's received a "D-" because 15 percent of its beef is sourced from producers that cut the use of tylosin, an antibiotic, by one-fifth.

According to the report, Fuddruckers, Steak 'n Shake and Farmer Boys have no antibiotic polices, but they offer a burger option made of beef raised without antibiotics. All three received "F" grades.

Many producers of meat give animals antibiotics to stave off disease and make them grow faster.

"When antibiotics stop working, diseases become harder to treat, life-saving surgeries riskier to perform, and a scrape on the knee can even turn deadly," Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives in the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said in a news release Wednesday.

The CDC calls antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest public health challenges of our time."

"Each year in the U.S., at least two million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die," the institution said.

Lauren Altmin, a McDonald's spokesperson, said, "preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations is highly important" to the company.

The report urges chains and lawmakers to take action.

"While restaurants and major meat producers have critical roles to play in stopping the overuse of antibiotics, the government must also act to achieve the kind of lasting, industry-wide change needed to fully protect public health," the report said.

"Policymakers should only allow beef producers to use medically important antibiotics under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian, and to treat animals diagnosed with an illness or to control a verified disease outbreak," it said.