McDonald’s has announced a policy to reduce the overall use of antibiotics important to human health which applies across 85% of the company’s global beef supply chain. The company will monitor antibiotic use in its top ten beef sourcing markets and set reduction targets for medically important antibiotic use by the end of 2020.
McDonald’s said it has been developing this policy over the past year and a half, while consulting a cross-section of expert stakeholders from veterinarians, to public health leaders, to the beef producers responsible for taking care of the health of animals within the supply chain every day.
McDonald’s is the first major burger chain to announce a comprehensive antibiotic use reduction policy for all beef sold by its restaurants—and the largest, by far. It joins a small group of other fast food industry leaders that have either cut antibiotic use in their beef supplies or are committed to do so, including Chipotle, Panera and Subway.
In a statement, McDonald’s committed to the following:
- Use of antibiotics for growth promotion is not permitted in food-producing animals in McDonald’s supply chain.
- Routine use of medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease is not permitted in McDonald’s supply chain.
- Critically Important antibiotics for human medicine are not permitted for the control and/or treatment of the dissemination of a clinically diagnosed infectious disease identified within a group of food-producing animals in McDonald’s supply chain.
“McDonald’s believes antibiotic resistance is a critical public health issue, and we take seriously our unique position to use our scale for good to continue to address this challenge,” says Keith Kenny, McDonald’s Global vice president for sustainability. “We are excited to partner with our beef supply chain around the world to accelerate the responsible use of antibiotics, whilst continuing to look after the health and welfare of those animals in our supply chain.”
Specifically, McDonald’s will:
- Partner with supplying beef producers in the top 10 beef sourcing markets to measure and understand current usage of antibiotics across a diverse, global supply chain.
- By the end of 2020, establish reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for those markets.
- Beginning in 2022, report progress against antibiotic reduction targets across the top 10 beef sourcing markets.
“The path for creating and implementing a global antibiotic use policy for beef is unprecedented,” says Dan Thomson, MS, PhD, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. “I’ve been encouraged by the thoroughness with which McDonald’s has engaged diverse experts while creating this policy and the seriousness with which they take this important issue.”
McDonald’s also joined the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge, along with 130 other organizations. Launched in September 2018, the AMR Challenge is a yearlong effort to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the globe.
“We are on a journey to build a better McDonald’s,” the company statement said. “As we work in partnership with our supply chain and producer partners to address major challenges like antibiotic resistance, we’ll continue to listen to our customers to make sure we’re meeting and exceeding their expectations every day – from the farm to our restaurants.