McDonald’s unveils updated plan to reduce routine antibiotics use in its supply chain
Move follows years of shareholder, consumer pressure
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) unveiled an updated vision for reducing the routine use of antibiotics in its supply chain. The vision sets the framework for the adoption of new policies and timelines for reducing and where possible eliminating the routine use of antibiotics in all food animals. It also sets a global policy for only sourcing broiler chickens that have been raised without antibiotics defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Highest Priority Critically Important (HPCIA) for human medicine. The policy will be in effect for Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., and Europe by 2018, Australia and Russia by 2019 and the rest of its markets by 2027. The global policy falls short of eliminating all medically important antibiotics.
In response, Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology at Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:
In response to years of consumer and shareholder pressure to eliminate routine antibiotic use in its supply chain, today McDonald’s has taken an important step forward in the fight to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in human medicine and improve conditions of farm animals. By establishing a stronger framework for reducing the use of antibiotics important in human medicine in all food animals, the company has laid the basis for significant reductions in the use of antibiotics and in improvements in animal husbandry on the farms that produce its food.
We look forward to seeing concrete policies and timelines in the near future regarding its pork and beef supply. The devil is always in the details and we hope that McDonald’s new policy for beef will completely eliminate the use of all medically important antibiotics for anything other than the treatment of sick animals. We note that McDonald’s new vision is in conflict with the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef’s lack of clear benchmarks around the reduction and elimination of antibiotics important in human medicine. As a major leader in that initiative, we urge the company to ensure that the Roundtable and its own U.S. “sustainable beef” initiative move swiftly to establish clear benchmarks for reduction and elimination of routine use of antibiotics important in human medicine.
The company’s statement today sends a powerful signal to large meat and poultry producers that they must act swiftly to reform their practices or lose potential large buyers like McDonald’s. We urge other fast food chains to follow McDonald’s lead and get more serious about reducing the use of antibiotics in their supply chains, especially in their beef and pork supply.