Sound Bites: Antibiotics in Restaurant Meats, Good News about School Lunch, and Redefining Healthy

Our weekly column on the latest nutrition and healthy eating news

Healthy school lunch box

June 7, 2017

By Megan O. Steintrager

Which Restaurants Serve Antibiotic-Free Meat? 

You’re probably already aware of the downsides of consuming meat from animals treated with antibiotics (in case you need a refresher course: over-use of antibiotics in animals has been linked to obesity, and may make antibiotics less effective in treating human disease). Concerned consumers could look for antibiotic-free meats at the market, but when it came to restaurants, you were often dining blind. Until now: reports a new antibiotic scorecard that grades 25 fast-food and fast-casual restaurants on whether they are phasing out routine antibiotic use. Chipotle and Panera both rated A’s; meanwhile, Subway, which got an F last year, jumped all the way up to a B. To find out who’s at the bottom of the bunch and everyone in between, read the full Chain Reaction II report (PDF).

Kids Are Eating Healthier, Despite School Lunch Trash-Talk

It’s been four years since new nutrition standards for national school lunch and breakfast programs were implemented, as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, including increasing the availability of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in school meals, and making it a requirement for kids to choose a fruit or vegetable with lunch. Now, research is starting to come in about the effects of the new standards. “Despite some anecdotal reports in the media that fruits and vegetables from these new updated school meals were ending up in the trash, two studies discovered the opposite,” write the authors of a recent article in The Nutrition Source from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The article cites one study that found that “children were eating more of their entrees and selecting and eating more fruit” and another that followed 500 children in urban schools in fifth through seventh grade and saw a 19 percent increase in vegetable intake. Sounds like more trash-talking than actual trash has been going on in our cafeterias.

Why Organic Milk Lasts So Long

Ever noticed that the organic milk on your store shelf seems to have a much later expiration date than the regular stuff? It’s because most organic milk you’ll find at the grocery store has been pasteurized at a higher temperature than conventional milk, which destroys more kinds of bacteria, including those that lead to spoilage, the New York Times explains.

Bottle and glass of organic milk

How Do You Define Healthy Food?

The meaning of the term “healthy” can be a bit squishy, and the FDA wants your help firming up the definition, WebMD reports. The agency has started a process of redefining what the “healthy” label on products means and it wants your input on what you expect from a product when it’s labeled “healthy.” Learn more about how you can put in your two cents at

Good News for Restaurant Workers with Families

Last year, restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group made news by announcing that over 2016 they’d be phasing out tipping and introducing a  hospitality included” model meant to be better for both front- and back-of-the-house workers. Now the group, which includes New York’s Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, and Union Square Cafe, is planning to put into place another pro-worker policy: paid parental leave — a rarity in the restaurant biz. “Starting in 2017, all full-time employees in the front and back of the house with more than one year of employment will be offered 100 percent of their base wages for the first four weeks after their child is born or adopted,” Eater reports. Now there’s a bundle of joy.