By 2025, Taco Bell plans to reduce antibiotics – especially those that are important to human health – in most of its beef supply by 25%, the chain said Monday.
Overuse of antibiotics in animals can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose a risk to human lives, according to the World Health Organization. As consumers become more aware of the dangers, big chains promise changes.
Because Taco Bell does not directly control the beef supply, the promise constitutes an obligation to work with suppliers.
"Essentially, we send a support signal to the industry," Missy Schaaphok, Taco Bell's global nutrition and sustainability manager, told CNN Business. She said 25% is an "ambitious" figure, but a Taco Bell can meet. Taco Bell is owned by Yum ( YUM ) ! Brands, who also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.
That is a modest goal when we consider that Taco Bell was able to eliminate the use of antibiotics important to human health in the chicken supply in 201
But "chicken is much easier," Schaaphok said, because they tend to spend all your life in one place . That means the animals only have one handler, she said. Choirs, on the other hand, move around and live longer, making monitoring more difficult.
Taco Bell is not alone in its attempt to reduce antibiotics in the supply chain. Late last year, McDonald's announced a plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in beef, among other things.
The changes follow a 2018 scorecard published by the Natural Resources Defense Council and its partners that found that most major burger chains – including McDonald's, Burger King and Sonic – earned an F when it came to reducing antibiotics in the beef supply. Only Shake Shack and BurgerFi received an A rating to obtain beef from farmers who do not use antibiotics.
Lena Brook, NRDC's director of food campaigns, said in a statement that Taco Bell's "commitment leaves significant room for improvement" because it does not include a plan to use third-party verification of the targets, has a six-year timeline and does not provide as many details.
But, she added, "it is a move in the right direction and shows that the pressure is on for competitors to take action."
Some chains, such as Chipotle ( CMG ) and Panera have had good results in previous versions of the NRDC reports, which included non-burger fast food chains, and who probably sells chicken.