Two types of animal antibiotics and an animal contraceptive have been detected in food samples from America's top 10 most popular fast-food chains, according to a laboratory report.
In September, Moms Across America (MAA) submitted food samples from 10 popular American food chains to the Health Research Institute, an Iowa-based nonprofit laboratory that tests food for nutritional value, biofunctionality, and contaminants and toxins, requesting that the laboratory test the samples for over 100 common veterinary drugs and hormones. MAA is a nonprofit activism group formed by mothers intending to bring awareness to food that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides.
Molecular and chief scientist at the Health Research Institute, John Fagan, confirmed that his lab tested the food samples.
8 in 10 Popular Fast Food Chains Tested Positive
Most of the food was sampled from America's top 10 most popular food chains. Volunteers for MAA went to their local McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Dunkin', Wendy's, or Domino's stores and ordered the same meal several times.
Kept in its packaging, each meal was sealed, frozen, and mailed to the Health Research Institute.
At the laboratory, the food and its packaging were ground up and then tested for veterinary drugs and hormones.
With the exception of Chipotle and Subway, all the food samples tested positive for veterinary drugs.
Monensin, Narasin, and Nicarbazin
The drug concentrations in all of the food samples were below 2 micrograms per kilogram, which is significantly below the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) acceptable daily intake.
Mr. Fagan highlighted that the FDA's acceptable intake levels are meaningful for checking acute poisoning. Yet in the case of fast food, which some people consume daily, there is a concern of chronic poisoning due to accumulation of toxins.
Less than 0.5 microgram per kilogram of the antibiotic monensin was detected in Taco Bell, Dunkin', Wendy's, Domino's, Burger King, and McDonald's.
The acceptable daily intake for monensin is 12.5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
The antibiotic monensin was detected in Taco Bell, Dunkin', Wendy's, Domino's, Burger King, and McDonald's.
Monensin is a commonly used veterinary antibiotic with a slim margin of safety. Side effects of monensin in animals include anorexia, diarrhea, weakness, and motor problems. Overdose can cause an animal's poisoning or even death.
Monensin poisoning is rare in humans, and there is no effective treatment used in clinical practice.
One case occurred in a man who ingested 300 milligrams of monensin, leading to severe rhabdomyolysis, or a breakdown of muscle tissue. This medical condition is quite severe and can lead to damaged heart and kidneys.
The dose that man ingested, however, is a million times higher than the microgram doses detected in the food samples.
Less than 2 micrograms per kilogram of narasin was detected in a Wendy's cheeseburger. It was also found in trace amounts in a meal from Dunkin', Domino's, and a Starbucks sandwich.
The acceptable daily intake for narasin is 5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
Narasin is an antibiotic and antiparasitic feed additive that helps control parasitic infections in fattened chicken. It is also often added to cattle feed, as it increases dry matter intake. Both narasin and monensin are ionophores, meaning they can disturb the balance of ions in cells and are often used in animals to control bacterial and parasitic infections.
Side effects of narasin in animals include anorexia, diarrhea, and degeneration of heart and skeletal muscles.
These antibiotic ionophores are not used in humans due to concerns of toxicity, though there are few cases of documented toxicity from these drugs.
Nicarbazin, an animal antiparasitic and contraceptive, was detected in the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich sample. Less than 0.5 microgram per kilogram of nicarbazin was detected.
The acceptable daily intake for nicarbazin is 200 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
The drug is primarily used as an antiparasitic drug in fattened chickens and turkeys, but it has also been used for population control of geese and pigeons.
Since it is highly toxic to agricultural embryos and decreases egg laying and hatching among grown poultry populations, many farmers have called for more regulations to protect their animals from such exposures.
To date, no reports have shown that nicarbazin causes toxic effects in humans, though its long-term ramifications are unknown. One research report assumed that nicarbazin would be safe for consumers since most turkeys fed the drug would act as a filter, breaking down the drug before it reached the market.
"The impact of millions of Americans, especially children and young adults, consuming a known animal contraceptive daily is concerning," said Zen Honeycutt, MAA's executive director. "With infertility problems on the rise, the reproductive health of this generation is front and center for us, in light of these results."
Few studies have investigated the effects of veterinary drugs in humans.
"That's the problem," Ms. Honeycutt told The Epoch Times. "These are veterinary drugs and hormones ... so the only studies that I have found and that you will find will be for animals. [They're] not authorized for humans, and yet they're being allowed [into the food supply].
"Some people are consuming this food every day, so we don't know how much they are accumulating in their body," Ms. Honeycutt added.
Are All Fast Food Chain Stores Affected?
Since each food sample was bought from only one store per fast-food chain, Ms. Honeycutt said that they would need to do more tests to know if all other chains served food containing similar veterinary drugs.
However, she was suspicious that other chains may also be affected.
"My understanding is that they're grinding the meat up of hundreds of birds in order to make these processed meat patties. So when one is contaminated, it likely contaminates possibly hundreds of other samples ... If one comes down with this particular disease, then the farmer will likely treat any of the birds at a facility," Ms. Honeycutt said.
When asked about potential package contamination, Mr. Fagan from the Health Research Institute said that the packages came from different states across the United States, so while one package might be contaminated, it would be difficult for all of them to be contaminated.
The MAA previously tested 43 school lunches provided by participants. Lab tests found that 95 percent of the lunches had glyphosate, and 74 percent contained at least one harmful pesticide.
Glyphosate is a weed killer, and childhood exposure to glyphosate has been linked to the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Thiabendazole, an immune suppressant, was detected in around 30 percent of the samples, and a developmental toxin was found in over 40 percent of them.
The Epoch Times reached out to the fast-food chains reported in this article for comment.