McDonald’s has committed to the following policies as part of its plan to reduce the use of antibiotics:
- Use of antibiotics for growth promotion is not permitted in food-producing animals in its supply chain.
- Routine use of medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease is not permitted in its 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 its supply chain.
In a statement, it said: “According to the WHO [World Health Organization], antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. With our new policy, McDonald’s is doing our part to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human and animal health in the future.”
McDonald’s added that reducing the overall use of medically important antibiotics in beef was “complex and cannot be accomplished overnight”.
“Additionally, there is limited antibiotic usage data available across the global beef industry. That is why, in collaboration with our suppliers and beef producers, we are taking a strategic and phased approach.
“Our overall approach to responsible use of antibiotics focuses on refining their selection and administration, reducing their use, and ultimately replacing antibiotics with long-term solutions to prevent diseases and protect animal health and welfare. With this in mind, we remain committed to treating animals when needed.”
Keith Kenny, McDonald’s Global vice president for sustainability said: “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. 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.”
It will be running pilots of this new policy this month in its top 10 markets: Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, the UK, Canada, the USA and Brazil. By the end of 2020, it will establish market-specific reduction targets for medically important antibiotics, based on the pilot findings and, starting in 2022, it will be reporting progress against antibiotic reduction targets across its top 10 beef sourcing markets.
The food chain has been working on this policy for the past 18 months, consulting a cross-section of expert stakeholders from veterinarians, to public health leaders, to beef producers.