Would you like a side of antibiotics with that Big Mac? Well, apparently that’s exactly what you’re getting. An overexposure to antibiotics in our foods has a detrimental effect on our health and our bodies’ ability to fight off infections. But now that #health is trending, some major food chain restaurants are cooking up policies to improve the meat we eat.

Feeding or injecting chickens and cows with antibiotics is a common practice for meat processing companies. This practice started as a way to accelerate the growth of the animal, rather than waiting for nature to take its course. When farmers started to see an increase in the rate of disease and infection among the poultry and livestock, they just fed more antibiotics to the animals instead of improving the living conditions.

What manufacturers didn’t take into account is what happens to us humans who consume these meats that contain traces of antibiotics. Simply put, we are ingesting antibiotics when we eat most commercial meats. And you thought you needed a prescription for that!

Truth is, if you eat meat on the regular, you probably have trace levels of antibiotics in your system at all times. Which is a problem because too much of a good thing is never a good thing.

These antibiotics in our systems eventually cause a condition known as “antibiotic resistance”; that’s when bad bacteria in the body develops a resistance to antibiotics due to overexposure, rendering the drug useless or ineffective in fighting off infections.

Think of it as a sports competition. When one team figures out how the other team’s defense strategy works they can eventually overpower them for the win. Which is why the Center for Disease Control recently identified antibiotic resistance as one of the top five threats to our health.

So what does it mean for us Americans who spend nearly fifty percent of food budget on fast food or meals outside the home?

Well, maybe you’re okay with becoming one of the 2 million Americans that contract an antibiotic-resistant infection each year. Maybe re-occurring staph infections seem like a small price to pay for a bucket of spicy chicken at Monday night football. You can always take your chances or you can take control of your health and start making some informed choices.

The good news is that you don’t have to stop eating out. Most Americans would sooner lose a limb than give up their In-and-Out burgers. No, what I’m suggesting is simple. You’ve got options. There are numerous socially responsible food companies that recognize they can make money AND put out a good quality product.

In response to consumer demands, these food companies have decided to use meats that are raised and produced without the use of antibiotics. Drug-free meat…what a novel idea!

But wait, it gets even better. Since there isn’t a drug-free meat app available yet, the good people at Friends of the Earth, along with several other public interest groups have put a list together for you. In hopes of empowering consumers, they conducted a recent study to find the best and worst fast food offenders. Here’s what they found:

Antibiotic-free Rock Stars

These restaurants offer meat options produced without the use of antibiotics
  • Panera Bread
  • Chipotle Mexican Food

Working on It

This popular chicken spot has adopted a policy that 100% of its chicken will be antibiotic-free by the year 2019
  • Chick-fil-A

Huge Fail

These fast food joints have failed to adopt and/or implement a policy prohibiting the purchase of meat and poultry from suppliers who use antibiotics
  • Burger King
  • Taco Bell
  • Arby’s
  • KFC
  • Starbucks
  • Jack-in-the-Box
  • Dairy Queen
There you have it. So now you can have your burger fix and remain drug-free. Unless of course you order a soda and fries…but that’s a whole other article.

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