Food In Canada

McDonald’s announces policy to eliminate overuse of antibiotics in beef

By Food in Canada staff   

Regulation Processing Meat &Poultry beef McDonald's

McDonald’s has become the first major fast food chain to establish a comprehensive policy to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its beef supply chain. McDonald’s is the world’s largest burger chain and the single largest purchaser of beef in the U.S. The burger chain made the announcement December 11, and said it will commit to reducing antibiotic use in 85 per cent of the beef it purchases.

It is expected that other fast food chains will follow suit and the announcement has implications for the beef industry, as McDonald’s is the biggest buyer of beef to tackle the issue of antibiotic use in cattle.  McDonald’s and other fast food chains have already set policies in place for the use of medically important antibiotics in chicken.

McDonald’s said in a release it understands 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. That is why, in collaboration with its suppliers and beef producers, the company is taking a strategic and phased approach:

  • McDonald’s is partnering with supplying beef producers in top 10 beef sourcing markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, the U.K and the U.S.) to measure and understand current usage of antibiotics across a diverse, global supply chain;
  • By the end of 2020, based on what the company learns, it will establish reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for these markets; and
  • Starting in 2022 – McDonald’s will be reporting progress against antibiotic reduction targets across its top 10 beef sourcing markets.

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.

The company’s overall approach to responsible use of antibiotics focuses on refining the  selection and administration of antibiotics, reducing their use, and ultimately replacing antibiotics with long-term solutions to prevent diseases and protect animal health and welfare. The company said it will remain committed to treating animals when needed.

This latest announcement builds on fifteen years of progress since McDonald’s first developed a position on responsible antibiotics use in 2003. In 2016, McDonald’s USA reached its commitment to serve only chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine, nearly one year ahead of schedule. Further, in 2017, McDonald’s announced an expanded antibiotics policy for chicken in markets around the world, as well as a refreshed Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship statement with commitments to create responsible-use antibiotic approaches for beef, dairy beef and pork.

McDonald’s also said in the release it has joined the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge. Launched in September 2018, the AMR Challenge is a yearlong effort to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the globe.Click here to learn more about McDonald’s commitment, and the more than 130 organizations who have already committed to the challenge.

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