Responsible use of antibiotics
Building on our 2003 Global Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship in Food Animals, starting in 2018 we are beginning to implement a new broiler chicken antibiotics policy in markets around the world,1 which will require the elimination of antibiotics defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials (HPCIA) to human medicine. Additionally, the routine preventative use of antibiotics will be prohibited. To make sure this policy can be effectively implemented, we are taking a tiered approach.
This builds on the progress we have already made in our U.S. chicken supply chain, with the removal in 2016 of antibiotics that the WHO has determined important to human medicine. We achieved this goal a year ahead of schedule. Find out more about our work on the responsible use of antibiotics and our Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals (pdf, 183KB).
Welfare on the farm
As part of our broader chicken sustainability journey, in 2017 we made a global commitment to source chickens raised with improved welfare outcomes. This means:
- Measuring key farm-level welfare outcomes on an ongoing basis, setting targets and reporting on progress.
- Developing state-of-the art welfare measurement technology.
- Providing enrichments to support the expression of natural behavior.
- Supporting commercial trials to study the effects of certain production parameters on welfare outcomes.
- Implementing third-party auditing.
- Requiring that our Approved Suppliers transition stunning methods to Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS) in the U.S. and Canada.
- Establishing a McDonald’s Advisory Council for Chicken Sustainability to support our continued journey on chicken sustainability.
- Complete an assessment to measure the feasibility of extending these commitments to the remaining global markets where McDonald’s operates.
These commitments apply to markets across the globe,2 which impact more than 70% of our global chicken supply and will be fully implemented on or before 2024. Together, we believe these commitments provide the ability to drive and measure continuous improvement for the health and welfare of chickens.
These latest commitments build on our existing position (pdf, 469KB) that all chickens used for meat in our global supply chain are required to be reared only in cage-free systems.
Welfare at slaughter
To meet our overarching vision of making meaningful and enduring improvement to the health and welfare of animals in our supply chain throughout their lives, the Company requires that abattoirs must pass a rigorous animal welfare audit, including applying the U.S. National Chicken Council tool. 100% of our approved facilities providing chicken raw material are compliant with the Company’s requirements.
If suppliers don’t meet these standards, we don’t accept them as McDonald’s Approved Suppliers. For more information on our approach, please see the following Guidelines and Criteria: McDonald’s Animal Health and Welfare Guidelines and Audit Criteria – Chickens at Slaughter (pdf, 478KB).
Taking the pressure off tropical forests
As part of our commitment to eliminate deforestation from our global supply chains, we’ve been working with Greenpeace to establish and support the Soy Moratorium, a voluntary agreement between retailers, NGOs and traders to prevent soy being grown on Amazon land deforested after 2008. In the first decade since its inception in 2006, deforestation has fallen 86% in the municipalities covered by the Moratorium (accounting for 98% of the soybeans in the Amazon biome).3
In 2015, along with Greenpeace and Cargill, we were recognized for this work by the Keystone Policy Center for Leadership in the Environment. In 2016, we supported the indefinite extension of the Moratorium, which will now remain in place until it is no longer needed.
Further significant progress is being made in Europe, where we’ve set a 2020 target for suppliers to purchase only certified sustainable soy. In 2017, approximately 65% of the soy used in chicken feed for McDonald’s restaurants in Europe was covered by a combination of ProTerra and Roundtable on Responsible Soy certification.
Developing alternative chicken feeds
We’ve been working with our suppliers and research institutes to support the development of novel alternative protein feeds, to reduce our reliance on soy for chicken feed and thereby help alleviate pressure on forests. This includes studies on insects and algae, and how these feeds will impact chicken health and welfare. While our early results are encouraging, developing these new and innovative supply chains is a long-term project that may run up to 10 years.