McDonald’s commits to antibiotic reduction policy for beef

Beef Central, 12/12/2018

GLOBAL burger chain McDonald’s has established a new beef antibiotic policy that will apply to 85 percent of its global beef supply chain, including Australia.

“As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s has the opportunity to use our scale to tackle some of the most complicated challenges facing people, animals and our planet – and help drive industry-wide progress,” the company said in a statement.

McDonald’s said it was doing its part to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human and animal health in the future, by reducing the overall use of antibiotics, and ultimately replacing them with long-term solutions to prevent diseases and protect animal health and welfare.

The new policy will apply to beef supply out of Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the US.

In collaboration with its suppliers and beef producers in these regions, McDonald’s has launched a three-phase approach to antibiotic use:

  • The company is partnering with supplying beef producers to measure and understand current usage of antibiotics across its diverse, global supply chain
  • By the end of 2020, based on what is learned, McDonald’s will establish reduction targets for medically-important antibiotics for these markets; and
  • Starting in 2022, it will report progress against antibiotic reduction targets across its top 10 beef sourcing markets.

Quoting the World Health Organisation, McDonald’s said antibiotic resistance was one of today’s biggest threats to global health, food security, and development.

“We understand that reducing the overall use of medically important antibiotics in beef is complex and cannot be accomplished overnight. Additionally, there is limited antibiotic usage data available across the global beef industry,” the company statement said.

McDonald’s said it had been developing its antiobiotic policy over the past year and a half, while consulting with a cross-section of expert stakeholders from veterinarians to public health leaders, to beef producers responsible for taking care of the health of animals within the supply chain every day.

“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,” it said.

This week’s announcement follows 15 years of progress since McDonald’s first developed a position on responsible antibiotics use in 2003. In 2016, the company’s US division committed to serve only chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine, nearly one year ahead of schedule.

Last year, it announced an expanded antibiotics policy for chicken in markets around the world, as well as an updated Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship statement with commitments to create responsible-use antibiotic approaches for beef, dairy beef and pork.


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  1. John Gunthorpe, 13/12/2018

    McDonalds are retail members of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and are following the strategy of WWF to eliminate beef production worldwide. Soon they will be promoting their non-beef burger.
    Australian Cattle Industry Council

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