McDonalds pushed on use of antibiotics free meat
A consumer and public health group is pressuring McDonalds to set a concrete timeline for phasing out medically important antibiotics in their beef and pork supply chain. McDonalds stopped serving chicken meat from birds raised using antibiotics important to human medicine in 2016, but now the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) wants the quick-service chain to serve antibiotic-free pork and beef.
PIRG alleges that McDonalds has a vague long-term plan in place to remove the use of medially important antibiotics from their beef and pork suppliers. The organization believes this could lead to more antibiotic resistant bacteria, posing a major health risk to people.
“Protecting antibiotics requires action, not reaction. If we don’t act now to preserve the effectiveness of these medicines, we’ll face a world in which common infections once again kill,” says Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director, PIRG Education Fund. “The Big Mac can make a big dent in stopping the misuse of antibiotics in our food system.”
Restaurants like Subway, Chipotle and Panera Bread, have all made pushes to go antibiotic-free with some or all of their menu items. McDonalds has made steps towards going antibiotic free by only purchasing chicken that was raised without the use of medically important antibiotics, starting in 2016. According to PIRG, 14 of the 25 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. have made a commitment to no longer acquire chickens that have been treated routinely with antibiotics. In 2017, McDonalds released an updated Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship (VAS) for Food Animals, which serves as the company’s framework for antibiotic use in food animals. The VAS states “..McDonalds is committed to reducing the need for antibiotics, and has a preference for raw materials (beef, poultry, pork, dairy cows and laying hens and defined as “Food Animals”) supplied through progressive farming practices including the Responsible Use of Antibiotics. As one of the world’s largest food companies, we will seize the opportunity to use its scale for good, to influence industry change on the issue of Responsible Use of Antibiotics.”
PIRG has started gathering signatures on a petition urging McDonald’s to act on removing meat from food animals produced using antibiotics. Meanwhile, state affiliates of PIRG have held rallies outside McDonald’s restaurants across the USA.