March 6, 2015

 

McDonald's moves to eliminate use of human antibiotics in chickens
 

 

McDonald's USA on Wednesday said it would start using chickens raised without antibiotics used as human medicine, a step it said toward "better delivering on (customers') expectations".

 

Its US restaurants will also no longer offer milk from cows treated with a particular artificial growth hormone, it added.

 

"Our customers want food that they feel great about eating-all the way from the farm to the restaurant-and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations," said McDonald's US President Mike Andres.

 

McDonald's has been working closely with farmers for years to reduce the use of antibiotics in its poultry supply. This new policy supports the company's new Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals introduced this week, which builds on the company's 2003 global antibiotics policy and includes supplier guidance on the thoughtful use of antibiotics in all food animals.

 

All of the chicken served at McDonald's US restaurants-which number around 14,000-comes from US farms that work closely with McDonald's to implement the new antibiotics policy to the supply chain within the next two years.

 

"McDonald's believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care and our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed antibiotics, and then they will no longer be included in our food supply," said Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald's North America Supply Chain.

 
 

Responsible use of ionophores

 

While McDonald's will only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine, the farmers who supply chicken for its menu will continue to responsibly use ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens healthy.

 

"If fewer chickens get sick, then fewer chickens need to be treated with antibiotics that are important in human medicine. We believe this is an essential balance," Gross said.

 

In another move, McDonald's US restaurants later this year will only offer milk jugs of low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST. The milk jugs are popular choices in Happy Meals.

 

"While no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows, we understand this is something that is important to our customers," Gross said.

 

In reaction to McDonald's new policy, the National Chicken Council said in a statement that chicken producers have been working with the Food and Drug Administration, farmers and veterinarians to phase out the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine to promote growth in animals.

 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing health threats facing the world today.

 

On Monday Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins filed a bill seeking to combat the overuse of medically important antibiotics in animals.

 

Under the proposed Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2015, the FDA would be required to withdraw its approval of medically important antibiotics used for disease prevention or control that are at high risk of abuse, unless the producer of the drug can demonstrate that its use in agriculture does not pose a risk to human health.

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