What comes to mind when you think of the word "antibiotic"? Probably something medically related, right? Certainly not chicken.
As it happens, the two popular fast food chains owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc., Burger King and Tim Hortons, have announced plans to bid adieu to the antibiotic chicken they have been using, citing their decision to switch over to chicken that was raised without antibiotics as a "'critically important" element to human medicine.
We didn't even realize these brands were using that kind of meat anyway, so the announcement to discontinue the practice comes as a double surprise.
Restaurant Brands hopes to institute the changes in U.S. stores in 2017, while stores in Canada should be expected to make the switch in 2018 -- a whole year from now.
"We believe that it is important to reduce the use of antibiotics important for human medicine in order to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in both veterinary and human medicine," Restaurant Brands said in a statement.
Essentially, around 70 percent of antibiotics that human beings need in order to fight off infections are sold for use in meat and dairy production, rather than going toward ensuring our safety. This sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth.
Scientists, consumers, shareholders and public health experts have been decrying this practice, saying that using these antibiotics for animal agriculture is increasing our risk of contracting untreatable infections from bacteria dubbed "superbugs" that are actually resistant to antibiotics.
About 2 million people in the U.S. are estimated to be infected with drug-resistant bacteria every year according to the CDC, while 23,000 of those 2 million ultimately end up dying as a result.
We certainly hope all restaurant and food chains take this threat extremely seriously and do their part in eliminating the use of drugs that are important to human medicine.