Restaurant Report Card Grades on Antibiotics in Meat Supply

(CNN) A new report is sounding the alarm about the use of antibiotics in the meat and poultry supply chains of the 25 largest U.S. fast food and “fast casual” restaurants.

Most top U.S. restaurant chains have no publicly available policy to limit regular use of antibiotics in their meat and poultry supply chains, according to the “Chain Reaction” report by Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four other consumer interest, public health and environmental organizations.

“When livestock producers administer antibiotics routinely to their flocks and herds, bacteria can develop resistance, thrive and even spread to our communities, contributing to the larger problem of antibiotic resistance,” the authors wrote in the report, which was released Tuesday. “The worsening epidemic of resistance means that antibiotics may not work when we need them most: when our kids contract a staph infection (MRSA), or our parents get a life-threatening pneumonia.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have repeatedly warned about the not-far-off public health threat of antibiotic resistance. The CDC estimates at least 2 million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and that 23,000 die as a result.

“A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century,” the WHO cautioned in a 2014 report.

As people are eating out more than ever, the researchers behind the report wanted to look closely at “industry leaders and laggards.” They created a scorecard assessing the commitments of U.S. restaurant chains on antibiotics use and transparency in their supply chains.

How did your favorite food fare?

Each restaurant was graded on its antibiotics use policies, including the strength of the policy and whether it applies to all types of meat; its implementation of policies, including the estimated availability of meat produced without routine antibiotics; and transparency about its policies, including third-party audits, whether its policy was listed online and whether it responded to the survey. The authors reached out to restaurants in person, via email or via traditional mail. The total number of possible points was based on the restaurant’s menu offerings.

Chipotle and Panera Bread fared best, with both receiving As. Those restaurants are the only two that report serving a majority of their meat from animals raised without regular use of antibiotics, the report said.

“While many people are just starting to pay attention to the issue, we have known for a long time that it is the right thing to do, and we are pleased to see others taking even small steps to curb antibiotic use in livestock,” Chipotle said in response to the report.

Panera Bread responded, “More than a decade ago, we started serving chicken raised without antibiotics — ahead of the industry. We’re glad to see that others have followed and proud to have extended our commitment to all of the chicken, ham, bacon, sausage and roasted turkey on our salads and sandwiches.”

Chick-fil-A received a grade of B, and responded to the rating by noting that it was “the first in the quick service restaurant industry to announce a commitment to ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ in its chicken supply back in 2014. … Because of this stringent requirement and our desire to have third-party verification of our suppliers’ processes, the switch will take some time.”

Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s received Cs. Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s and Starbucks all received Fs, but got at least one point.

CNN reached out to 11 restaurant chains singled out by this study, and several responded to the report.

  • “Dunkin’ Donuts has stringent food quality standards for all of our products that meet all requirements of the FDA and USDA — complying with all laws, ordinances and regulations,” the doughnut chain said.
  • Wendy’s said it is testing grilled chicken that is raised without antibiotics.
  • Burger King Corp. said it would review the findings.
  • Domino’s said its suppliers “currently meet all USDA requirements and we don’t purchase chicken or beef treated with the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.”
  • Starbucks said it was working with its suppliers to address concerns about antibiotic use.

Other restaurants that received Fs earned zero out of 36 possible points: Olive Garden, Papa John’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Applebee’s, Sonic, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Outback and Little Caesars.

One of the chains scoring a zero, Papa John’s, said it is spending $100 million a year to eliminate artificial ingredients and other additives and that “by the first half of 2016, we will offer antibiotic-free chicken on our pizza.”

“Panera and Chipotle are the only chains that publicly affirm that the majority of their meat and poultry offered is produced without routine use of antibiotics,” the authors said in the report. “Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s have established policies limiting antibiotic use in their chicken with implementation timelines, while Dunkin’ Donuts has a policy covering all meats, but has no reported timeline for implementation.

“Most top U.S. chain restaurants have so far failed to effectively respond to this growing public health threat by publicly adopting policies restricting routine antibiotic use by their meat suppliers.”

Terry Fleck, the executive director of the Center for Food Integrity, whose members include the National Restaurant Association, said that responsible use of antibiotics makes food safer and more affordable.

“Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health concern that should be addressed both in human and animal medicine,” Fleck said in a statement emailed to CNN. “But just as with you or me, when animals get sick with a bacterial infection, treating them with antibiotics is the ethical thing to do. Farmers work closely with veterinarians to responsibly administer antibiotics in the care for their animals, benefiting each of us by making food safer and more affordable.”

Hormones in the food supply

The report’s authors said they also asked restaurants about use of hormones in meat and poultry supply chains out of concern that meat producers might increase use of those growth-promoting drugs as they phased out antibiotics. Hormones did not factor into the restaurants’ grades, but the authors said the use of hormones raise animal welfare concerns and possible human health risks.

“A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating foods that contain ingredients you can’t pronounce,” says Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent.

The report lists recommendations ranging from diners to restaurants, government officials and farmers.

Restaurants, the report said, should “use their considerable purchasing power to make meat and poultry produced without the routine use of antibiotics more readily available to consumers.”

The Food and Drug Administration should mandate greater transparency on antibiotic use among livestock producers, the report said, and “policies that prohibit use of medically important antibiotics for both growth promotion and disease prevention.”

The report urges consumers to ask about meat sources in restaurants and on social media.

“As more consumers demand better meat options, they will become more widely available,” the authors wrote. “Remember: it’s your money, your health and your future.”



First Impression: Honest Beauty

Honest Beauty officially launched their product lines last week.  These are my first impression of the products!

Marketing & Branding

  • The color scheme for the product line is neutral, which is quite different from how many other beauty brands are marketed
  • I am glad the company is showcasing various ethnicities
  • They only offer skin and makeup products.  Hair is the big ‘beauty’ segment that is missing, which will likely follow if the initial product lines are successful.
  • Honest Beauty is really showcasing Jessica Alba in the marketing as she is featured in 80% of the marketing on the site.  Most lines hire models, however, featuring her is clearly strategic and a part of branding.

Our Story

Honest Beauty’s tag line is “…doing beauty differently.  We’re proud to create a comprehensive line of skincare and makeup that celebrates diverse beauty and brings out your best.” 

They are definitely taking a step in the right direction, but their foundation offerings are limited.  I do not have a shade match, but that can somewhat be chalked up to them being new.  Hopefully, a wider variety of colors will launch if this venture is a success.

“Effective as it is safe.”  This is a meaningful statement.  All of the top beauty brands are effective but most are not “safe.”  This is the goal for most brands within the natural/safe/healthy beauty niche. 

Social Goodness

It is commendable that a portion of their proceeds goes to helping young women pursue their dreams.  Unfortunately, it does not disclose what percentage, inclined to believe it is less than 1%.

Beauty Bundle

Customized products?  Up to a 50% discount?  Yes and Yes!  However 3 products for $50?  No thanks!  My only question is how customized are the bundles?  Is it a “skin type, skin tone” auto selected bundle or can customers select which products they want in their bundle?  This is the model they have for their free trial.  However, this seems like a good deal if a customer likes their products and doesn’t mind the price!

Skin Care

Price points are too high.  There are certified organic products that are not as expensive for the same size.

Powder cleanser is very different, it looks like it may be an add water scrub?

Interesting that SPF moisturizers are included considering the scandal over the Honest Company sunscreens not actually providing sun protection.  It is also interesting that they contain non-nano zinc oxide which can leave a white hue on medium to dark skin tones.

Just to reiterate on the prices.  1.7 ounces for $22?  1 ounce of $34 and the product contains Dimethicone?


Makeup has a wider offering of products, face, eyes, cheeks, and lips.  The price points of the makeup is also too high.  The price is on par with established prestige beauty brands who have a broader following.  The pricing is presumably because Honest Beauty wants to be held in the same regard as those prestige brands, but those other brands are proven to be effective.

The ingredients of the lip pencil and blush look pretty good.  The colors are the typical variation of pink and red for lip and blush.  The ingredients of the lip gloss are a little concerning.


What are your thoughts on Honest Beauty’s product launch?

SheaMoisture & Bain Capital Partnership Controversy

This post is the first of a series called “Thoughts & Things” where Nature’s Pulchritude will weigh in on relevant topics related to natural and organic beauty and food.

Deep. Sigh.  Finding out that one of your favorite indie/small/niche brands has been bought out or funded by a large privately held entity typically causes loyal supporters to let out a collective deep sigh as they often feel the quality of their favorite brand is soon to decline.  It is not always true, but it most definitely is not uncommon. 

I remember the aftermath in the blogosphere after a well known nail polish brand was acquired by a large beauty company (OPI & Coty).  I also cannot help but recollect when a niche hair and skin brand (Carol’s Daughter) had celebrity investors, changed its marketing strategy, abandoned its core customers, and the debacle that occurred when the brand’s quality declined.  Needless to say, many of the brand’s loyal customers jumped ship once they figured out what was happening.  Said brand went bankrupt before being acquired by a major beauty corporation (L’Oreal).  That brings me to the controversy surrounding the announcement of Bain Capital investing in Sundial Brands LLC which produces SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage.  Many on the internet have been abuzz about this and have been vociferous about their discontent with the investment partnership.  We have seen this movie before, or have we?  

The Facts

Copyright Sundial Brands, LLC

SheaMoisture is a beauty company that was founded in 1992 that produces hair and skin products that has until recently been exclusively marketed to women of African decent to meet their unique hair needs.  SheaMoisture uses 4 generations old recipes that date back to 1912, started by the founder’s grandmother.  SheaMoisture became a household name natural hair brand when their Curl Enhancing Smoothie became the go-to product for natural hair gurus.

SheaMoisture is widely available at Walgreen’s, CVS, Walmart, Sally Beauty, Ulta and a host of brick-and-mortar and online retailers. Their hair and body products are sold at an affordable price point (typically $10, $20 for professional series) and can often be found on sale.  SheaMoisture has over 20 different collections (including men’s, kids, men and women’s shave, hair color, and makeup), many of which have been introduced in the last 2 years.  All of the hair and skin products contain fair trade and certified organic ingredients, most notably the namesake ingredient (Shea Butter), which is often one of the first 5 ingredients.

Sundial Brands (SheaMoisture’s parent company) is valued at $700 million , with annual venue’s of $200 million, according to Wall Street Journal (via MarketWatch).  Bain Capital’s investment amount is unknown.

SheaMoisture “Sells Out”

The worst case scenario is that SheaMoisture “sells out.”  What exactly is selling out?  SheaMoisture abandons its core customer base for the sake of becoming a “renaissance brand,” its formulas gradually begin to change and the organic and fair trade ingredients slowly but surely disappear, then silicones, mineral oil and the whole gang begin getting added into formulas, etc.  You get the point.  SheaMoisture will go the route of Carol’s Daughter and will lose the quality and integrity that attracted early and loyal customers in the first place.

Many SheaMoisture fans are greatly concerned about the choice of investment partner, as Bain Capital was founded by a former republican Presidential candidate (in the US).  Frankly, I am not sure why this is an issue for some.  If you look at various different organizations it is not unlikely you will find a senior level executive(s) with “eccentric” world views, or some “questionable” practices.  Yes it is very much possible that this particular investment firm may not “understand” the mission and values of SheaMoisture and its customers, but that is the responsibility of Sundial Brands to be firm in their values and establish investor criteria that support those values.

SheaMoisture Stays True to its Mission (and Customers)

Power.  Move.  The best case scenario is the SheaMoisture will stay true to its loyal customer base and ‘self’ as a brand, though they are persuing means to increase their profits, valuation, and market share.  Or in other words this is just a good business move.  It should be noted that Sundial Brands was receiving offers to be purchased (wholly acquired), so perhaps it should be heartening that they chose a minority stake investor instead.  

Ideally, once SheaMoisture reaches the financial level they desire they will pay back their investment, buy out Bain Capital’s minority stake, and continue to make quality products.  They will continue to offer products that meet the hair and skin needs of their core customer base, but will also have offerings that will suit the hair and skin needs of other demographics.  SheaMoisture is no longer aiming to be a great “niche” brand but is instead looking to become a beauty powerhouse that happens to have “clean/natural” formulas and use organic and fair trade ingredients in their products.

This partnership could go either way, but it is likely to go one of the two.  Sundial Brands CEO has noticed and responded to the backlash, trying to ensure customers that SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage products will retain their integrity.

What are your thoughts on this partnership?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Sundial Brands Announce Strategic Partnership to Drive Its Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurship

A well known beauty brand that produces quality products with fair trade and certified organics products via SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage recently announced an investment partnership that has been met with controversy. Check back tomorrow for my take on this partnership and why you should or should not be concerned!

Copyright Sundial Brands LLC (No Copyright Infringement Intended)

New York – (September 2, 2015) – Sundial Brands, the natural skin care and hair care manufacturer widely recognized for introducing the New General Market concept to beauty and retail, today announced that it has signed an agreement to enter into a strategic partnership with Bain Capital Private Equity, a leading global investment firm, to accelerate the company’s growth. Sundial founder and CEO Richelieu Dennis will continue to provide vision and leadership for the company, which will remain majority family-owned and operated including board, management and day-to-day operationsThe partnership will drive Sundial’s social entrepreneurship model, accelerate its multi-brand portfolio strategy – including investments in community-minded entrepreneurs and brands – and advance its transformative approach to serving New General Market consumers. It also ensures that Sundial’s community of consumers will remain at the forefront of the beauty landscape. Financial terms of the minority investment were not disclosed.

Copyright Sundial Brands LLC (No Copyright Infringement Intended)

“Our love of people has always been our motivation and our competitive advantage,” said Dennis. “While we have been presented several opportunities to be acquired by multinational corporations, we are most excited that our collaboration with Bain Capital fulfills our commitment to remain an independent family-owned and operated company with a purpose-driven business model that puts community at our core. Our consumers have always been partners with us, and now they can continue to walk with us on this journey. We recognize that African-American women have long been at the forefront of the natural hair and body movement that has created the dynamic cultural shift that we see today. It is exciting for us to see how Naturalistas have now empowered women from all backgrounds to embrace their natural beauty. In addition, they have compelled multinational beauty brands and retailers to acknowledge and be more respectful of their needs. Our family has understood this since 1912 – the value of listening to underserved consumers and delivering on their unmet needs. We are moving forward to build Sundial into a global family-owned-and-operated consumer brand of which they can be even more proud.”

“We are also excited to welcome Bain Capital as a valuable partner who shares our commitment to our communities globally and understands how our brand of social entrepreneurism can be enhanced to achieve our vision for growth and impact,” Dennis added.  “Sundial is now in the strongest position to continue to lead this beauty revolution, alongside all of our consumers, so that no one gets left behind.” Deval Patrick, a Managing Director at Bain Capital and the former Governor of Massachusetts, played an active role in the partnership discussions and will join the Board of Directors of Sundial.

Copyright Sundial Brands LLC (No Copyright Infringement Intended)

In 1992, Dennis founded Sundial with his college roommate, Nyema Tubman, and his mother, Mary Dennis, shortly after graduating from Babson College and being unable to return to his home country of Liberia because of civil war.  With a passion for entrepreneurship and a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Dennis decided to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies.  Drawing from culturally-authentic traditions born out of his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from his grandmother, Dennis incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and global experiences into efficacious natural bath and body care products.  In two short decades, Sundial has grown from selling products on the streets of New York City to having distribution and co-creation of its flagship brands – SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage – with major retailers across the United States. Via its purpose-driven Community Commerce business model, the company creates opportunities for sustainable social and economic empowerment throughout its supply chain and communities in the U.S. and Africa, focusing on entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, education and wellness.

“We are strategically aligned with our new partner around the elevation of the New General Market as a key growth driver and the opportunity to identify and invest in new ways to better serve our consumer community,” said Dennis.  “We have defined the New General Market as ‘an amalgamation of cultures, ethnicities and demographics aligned against commonalities, need states and lifestyles.’  Most critical are the commonalities and employing multi-need strategies that acknowledge both the differences within populations and the similarities across populations.  We all share similar needs that are often unmet or under-served.  When we focus on those, we can provide solutions that serve everyone in much more meaningful, relevant ways.”

Bain Capital Private Equity has a long track record of investing in and partnering with management teams to help grow companies.  Some of its consumer and retail investments have included TOMS, Canada Goose and Bright Horizons Family Solutions.

“Richelieu and his family have built an amazing business and community centered on the idea of the New General Market, an idea that is very well aligned with where we as consumers and as a country are headed. We could not be more excited to partner with Sundial Brands to continue to enhance this differentiated approach to innovation, social entrepreneurship and community engagement,” said Ryan Cotton, a Managing Director at Bain Capital.