Reckless Antibiotic Use in Beef Sold by Fast Food Giants, Grocery Chains, Walmart

A new investigation has revealed that suppliers of beef to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Kroger grocery chains and Walmart are sourcing meat from US factory farms that use antibiotics linked to the spread of dangerous superbugs.  More specifically, unpublished US government records obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian show factory farms producing beef for meat packing firms Cargill, JBS, and Green Bay are risking public health by still using antibiotics classed as the “highest priority critically important” to human health (HP-CIAs)*.  A warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that such drugs are so essential to human medicine and that their use in livestock farming should be stopped. The HP-CIA drugs are often the last line or one of limited treatments available for serious bacterial infections in humans. The overuse of such antibiotics means they can become less effective.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the gravest global public health threats. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is responsible for more than 35,000 deaths in the US each year, and 1.3 million globally.” (source)


“The reckless overuse of medically important antibiotics on factory farms is a major contributor to this deadly public health threat.  Giant agribusinesses have built a system that is dependent on this misuse of antibiotics to maximize their profits, with no regard to the serious harm they are causing.”

-Cory Booker, US senator who has advocated for stricter controls on how antibiotics can be used in food production (source)

*”A Bureau and Guardian analysis of data relating to 10 of the biggest meat packers revealed that all had at least one HP-CIA drug in use on one or more farms supplying their abattoirs. Several were found to have as many as seven separate HP-CIAs drugs in use. Cattle farms selling to JBS, which has sold beef to Wendy’s, Walmart and Taco Bell, were found to have used seven HP-CIAs antibiotic drug is use. Farms serving Green Bay Dressed Beef, which has supplied the Kroger supermarket chain, also had seven in use. Cattle suppliers to Cargill, which sells beef to McDonald’s, were found to have at least five HP-CIAs antibiotic drugs in use. Besides these drugs, other types of antibiotics frequently used in human medicine were also found.” (source)