NEW YORK (March 4, 2015) – McDonald’s – the world’s largest fast food chain – today announced that it is committing to serving chicken raised without antibiotics used in human medicine in all of their U.S. restaurants within two years. This comes on the heels of new leadership for the company. Steve Easterbrook began as CEO of McDonald’s on Monday, and brings to the role a legacy of healthier food and environmental initiatives within the company’s United Kingdom division. Today’s announcement marks a big step forward in protecting the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics for people, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Jonathan Kaplan, director of NRDC’s Food and Agriculture program, issued the following statement:
“This is a landmark announcement in the fight to keep life-saving antibiotics working for us and our children. The country’s largest fast food chain has committed to working with their suppliers to keep these drugs out of the barns used to raise the chickens for their nuggets, salads and sandwiches. In doing so, they are setting the bar for the entire fast food industry. If these are verifiable, given this company’s massive purchasing power and iconic brand, we may be at a tipping point for better antibiotic stewardship in the poultry industry.
“Hopefully, chicken is just the start – the Big Mac and McRib may be next. McDonald’s ‘Global Vision’ statement acknowledges the need to curb antibiotics use across their pork and beef supply chains too. Unfortunately, the statement does not include a ban on the use of all medically-important antibiotics in routine disease prevention, a practice known to contribute to antibiotic resistance. We urge McDonald’s to close this loophole in their ‘Global Vision’ statement, and to apply their new U.S. chicken antibiotics curbs to all their restaurants globally.
“We look forward to working with McDonald’s on a clear path to global leadership in making healthier, more responsibly-produced meat and poultry available to millions of customers around the world.”
For more on today’s announcement, please see the following expert blogs and related links:
- Blog posts by Jonathan Kaplan, NRDC’s Food and Agriculture Program Director
- Blog post by Sasha Stashwick, NRDC’s Senior Advocate, Food and Agriculture Program
- NRDC’s business case studies: