Chili’s and Maggiano’s parent company Brinker International has updated its animal welfare standards to include a commitment to working toward elimination of the use of medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply chains, with exceptions for treatment and non-routine control of diagnosed illness.
The change follows engagement with As You Sow on behalf of investors concerned about the threat of antibiotic resistance. As You Sow filed a shareholder resolution with Brinker in May of last year asking the company to adopt a policy to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics in all of its meat and poultry supply chains. It withdrew the resolution after the company agreed to work with its chicken suppliers to end the routine use of medically important antibiotics. We will continue to work with the company toward the goal of a full phase-out of these drugs in its chicken supply chain and extension of this policy to all its meat sources.
Casual dining and restaurant chains have lagged behind the fast food industry in terms of addressing antibiotics use in meat supply chains. Brinker joins Dine Brands (IHOP and Applebee’s) as one of the few restaurant chains taking action to catch up to its fast food counterparts.
“We are encouraged by the company’s commitment to reducing routine use of medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply chains. While the commitment is not yet a guarantee (given its lack of strict requirements or deadlines), the company’s willingness to work with its suppliers to eliminate overuse of antibiotics in its chicken supply is ultimately a positive step forward for public health. The threat of antibiotic resistance remains large, so we will continue to work to ensure that Brinker and other restaurant chains establish firm policies to eliminate the use of these important drugs in supply chains for all food animals,” Christy Spees, environmental health manager of As You Sow, said in a statement.