After a push from activists, the fast food chain pledges to make changes (because no one wants a burger with a side of "superbug")
In-N-Out Burger—what some may call the Shake Shack of the West Coast—is about to make some changes to its menu. Activist groups are asking In-N-Out (who boasts the use of fresh-never-frozen ingredients in their 300 locations across California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, and Oregon) to stop using meat from animals fed a routine diet of antibiotics.
Public interest groups like CALPIRG Education Fund, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Food Safety launched their campaign against In-N-Out due to concern that the overuse of antibiotics is contributing to increasing numbers of life-threatening human infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, AKA "superbugs," according to Reuters. (Which might still sound futuristic, but worldwide antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat right now, according to the World Health Organization.)
"Our company is committed to beef that is not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine and we've asked our suppliers to accelerate their progress towards establishing antibiotic alternatives," said Keith Brazeau, In-N-Out's vice president of quality, in a statement sent to Reuters. However, the company didn't give a timeline for the change.
This comes after other restaurants and food manufacturers are promising to make their food antibiotic-free; Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Shake Shack already serve meat raised without antibiotic use. And one year ago, McDonalds announced they'd be phasing out the use of human antibiotics in their chicken by 2017. Shortly after, Tyson Foods (the largest poultry producer in the country) followed suit.
What you might be thinking: Does discontinuing the use of antibiotics make our meat less safe? Antibiotics are used in livestock to treat, prevent or control disease, and to promote growth, Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a nutrition consultant in Chicago, told Shape. Overusing them in animals may contribute to both animal and humans becoming more resistant to antibiotics—meaning the medicine will be less effective when we're sick.
We're hoping In-N-Out hops on the drug-free food train, and fast (because we really don't want another reason to feel like we should resist that burger). But don't think that all the responsibility is in the hands of corporations: You can do your part to slow "superbugs" by only using antibiotics when absolutely necessary and when prescribed by a doctor, taking your full prescription (even if you start to feel better), and never sharing leftover prescriptions with others, according to the WHO.