Responsible Antibiotic Use

Why It Matters

Antimicrobial resistance is a critical global public health issue. McDonald’s takes seriously our responsibility to continue to address this challenge, ensuring antibiotic effectiveness for future generations.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance in humans.”McDonald’s is partnering with suppliers, veterinarians, academia and farmers to do our part in ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics in our supply chain, including reducing the use of medically important antibiotics in food animal production. Our approach is one of responsible use. We know that animals, like people, get sick and when they do, effective treatment includes use of the narrowest range of antibiotics, based on the professional opinion and diagnosis of the veterinarian.

 
Through our commitment to responsible antibiotic use, we are doing our part to help preserve their effectiveness for future generations.

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Why It Matters

Antimicrobial resistance is a critical global public health issue. McDonald’s takes seriously our responsibility to continue to address this challenge, ensuring antibiotic effectiveness for future generations.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance in humans.”McDonald’s is partnering with suppliers, veterinarians, academia and farmers to do our part in ensuring the responsible use of antibiotics in our supply chain, including reducing the use of medically important antibiotics in food animal production. Our approach is one of responsible use. We know that animals, like people, get sick and when they do, effective treatment includes use of the narrowest range of antibiotics, based on the professional opinion and diagnosis of the veterinarian.

 
Through our commitment to responsible antibiotic use, we are doing our part to help preserve their effectiveness for future generations.

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Our Strategy

 

McDonald’s is committed to the responsible use of antibiotics according to guidelines set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (formerly the OIE) and other recognized public and animal health bodies.

Our efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance within our supply chain dates back to 2003, when we first established a position on responsible antibiotic use. In 2015, we developed the Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship (VAS) strategy, which outlines our approach to antibiotic use within the McDonald’s supply chain and sets the path for the development of species-specific policies. 

Our VAS seeks animal production practices that reduce and, where possible, eliminate the need for antibiotic therapies in animals, by helping to identify and scale leading practices that progressive farms already employ. Our VAS and protein-specific policies are based on the “One Health” approach, which emphasizes the need for collaborative, multi-discipline efforts at local, national and global levels to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

We understand that animals, like people, get sick and require treatment. Treatment of sick animals supports our decades-long commitment to improving the health and welfare of animals in our supply chain. As such, our position on the use of antibiotics is one of responsible use. Responsible use of antibiotics focuses on refining their selection and administration, reducing their use, and ultimately replacing antibiotics with long-term solutions to prevent diseases and protect animal health and welfare. With this in mind, we remain committed to treating animals when needed.

 

Collaborating With Stakeholders 

Partnering with external experts is at the core of how we approach the development and implementation of our antibiotics policies. The issue of antimicrobial resistance is one that requires global multi-stakeholder, cross-industry collaboration to tackle. We engage a variety of stakeholders, including academia, suppliers, farmers and ranchers, NGOs, veterinary networks and others who have deep understanding of these issues and of ways that progress can be made. McDonald’s was a founding participant of the International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA). Through this cross-industry collaboration, we work to identify and advance commercial solutions to address antimicrobial resistance.

 

The path for creating and implementing a global antibiotic use policy for beef is unprecedented. I’ve been encouraged by the thoroughness with which McDonald’s has engaged diverse experts while creating this policy and the seriousness with which they take this important issue.

Dan Thomson, MS, PhD, DVM, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University

 

Putting Standards Into Practice 

The Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Food Animals is the foundation of McDonald’s global VAS. The following principles draw from existing frameworks: 

 

  • People first – Antibiotics that are approved for both human and animal use, other than those defined by the WHO as Highest Priority Critically Important to Human Medicine (HPCIA), may be used in animals for disease treatment or prevention only in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements and after thorough consideration of alternatives, including the use of antibiotics belonging to classes not used in human medicine.
  • Quality and safety – McDonald’s is committed to ensuring wholesome and safe food for our customers. Safe food is McDonald’s number one priority and is central to all Company operations.
  • Animal health and welfare – Treating animals with care is integral to McDonald’s animal health and welfare program. Disease prevention strategies, such as good husbandry and hygiene, routine health monitoring, immunization and other preventative options, should be emphasized before the use of antibiotics. We acknowledge that animals, like people, become sick and expect sick animals to be responsibly treated. To not treat sick animals is inhumane and inconsistent with McDonald’s belief that Food Animals within the McDonald’s System supply chain are properly cared for throughout their lives.
  • Antibiotics for food animals – Responsible use of any category of antibiotic is an integral part of an overall animal health and welfare program. These principles do not preclude the responsible use of any category of antibiotic, except for HPCIAs, to treat or, where appropriate, prevent disease.
  • Veterinary oversight – Veterinary oversight through a valid veterinary client-patient relationship is core to responsible antibiotic use. Antibiotics shall be used in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, and shall be used only in accordance with the product license requirements and as directed by a veterinarian.
  • Limit exposure – Antibiotic use should be confined to appropriate clinical indications. Exposure to antibiotics for disease treatment or prevention should be minimized by limiting treatment to sick animals or animals at risk of a specific disease. The use of any category of antibiotic for disease prevention should be regularly reassessed by a veterinarian. Usage of an antibiotic in a manner that is not in accordance with labeled directions, including but not limited to, a different dosage, time interval, route/application method, clinical indication or species, may be prescribed only after other antibiotic treatment options have been exhausted, and must be prescribed in accordance with the most up-to-date laws and regulations that govern drug use.
  • Record keeping – Accurate records of treatment and outcomes should be used to evaluate antibiotic regimen. Identify, track and maintain medication and treatment records for all treated animals. Refer to species specific document for additional guidance/requirements.
 

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Our work on responsible antibiotic use supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, in particular:

Our Strategy

 

McDonald’s is committed to the responsible use of antibiotics according to guidelines set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (formerly the OIE) and other recognized public and animal health bodies.

Our efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance within our supply chain dates back to 2003, when we first established a position on responsible antibiotic use. In 2015, we developed the Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship (VAS) strategy, which outlines our approach to antibiotic use within the McDonald’s supply chain and sets the path for the development of species-specific policies. 

Our VAS seeks animal production practices that reduce and, where possible, eliminate the need for antibiotic therapies in animals, by helping to identify and scale leading practices that progressive farms already employ. Our VAS and protein-specific policies are based on the “One Health” approach, which emphasizes the need for collaborative, multi-discipline efforts at local, national and global levels to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

We understand that animals, like people, get sick and require treatment. Treatment of sick animals supports our decades-long commitment to improving the health and welfare of animals in our supply chain. As such, our position on the use of antibiotics is one of responsible use. Responsible use of antibiotics focuses on refining their selection and administration, reducing their use, and ultimately replacing antibiotics with long-term solutions to prevent diseases and protect animal health and welfare. With this in mind, we remain committed to treating animals when needed.

 

Collaborating With Stakeholders 

Partnering with external experts is at the core of how we approach the development and implementation of our antibiotics policies. The issue of antimicrobial resistance is one that requires global multi-stakeholder, cross-industry collaboration to tackle. We engage a variety of stakeholders, including academia, suppliers, farmers and ranchers, NGOs, veterinary networks and others who have deep understanding of these issues and of ways that progress can be made. McDonald’s was a founding participant of the International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA). Through this cross-industry collaboration, we work to identify and advance commercial solutions to address antimicrobial resistance.

 

The path for creating and implementing a global antibiotic use policy for beef is unprecedented. I’ve been encouraged by the thoroughness with which McDonald’s has engaged diverse experts while creating this policy and the seriousness with which they take this important issue.

Dan Thomson, MS, PhD, DVM, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University

 

Putting Standards Into Practice 

The Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Food Animals is the foundation of McDonald’s global VAS. The following principles draw from existing frameworks: 

 

  • People first – Antibiotics that are approved for both human and animal use, other than those defined by the WHO as Highest Priority Critically Important to Human Medicine (HPCIA), may be used in animals for disease treatment or prevention only in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements and after thorough consideration of alternatives, including the use of antibiotics belonging to classes not used in human medicine.
  • Quality and safety – McDonald’s is committed to ensuring wholesome and safe food for our customers. Safe food is McDonald’s number one priority and is central to all Company operations.
  • Animal health and welfare – Treating animals with care is integral to McDonald’s animal health and welfare program. Disease prevention strategies, such as good husbandry and hygiene, routine health monitoring, immunization and other preventative options, should be emphasized before the use of antibiotics. We acknowledge that animals, like people, become sick and expect sick animals to be responsibly treated. To not treat sick animals is inhumane and inconsistent with McDonald’s belief that Food Animals within the McDonald’s System supply chain are properly cared for throughout their lives.
  • Antibiotics for food animals – Responsible use of any category of antibiotic is an integral part of an overall animal health and welfare program. These principles do not preclude the responsible use of any category of antibiotic, except for HPCIAs, to treat or, where appropriate, prevent disease.
  • Veterinary oversight – Veterinary oversight through a valid veterinary client-patient relationship is core to responsible antibiotic use. Antibiotics shall be used in accordance with all applicable regulatory requirements, and shall be used only in accordance with the product license requirements and as directed by a veterinarian.
  • Limit exposure – Antibiotic use should be confined to appropriate clinical indications. Exposure to antibiotics for disease treatment or prevention should be minimized by limiting treatment to sick animals or animals at risk of a specific disease. The use of any category of antibiotic for disease prevention should be regularly reassessed by a veterinarian. Usage of an antibiotic in a manner that is not in accordance with labeled directions, including but not limited to, a different dosage, time interval, route/application method, clinical indication or species, may be prescribed only after other antibiotic treatment options have been exhausted, and must be prescribed in accordance with the most up-to-date laws and regulations that govern drug use.
  • Record keeping – Accurate records of treatment and outcomes should be used to evaluate antibiotic regimen. Identify, track and maintain medication and treatment records for all treated animals. Refer to species specific document for additional guidance/requirements.
 

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Our work on responsible antibiotic use supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, in particular:

Our Actions


Implementing a Global Chicken Antibiotics Policy

As part of our commitment to use responsibly sourced chicken, in 2017 we released our Chicken Antibiotics Policy in markets around the world.2 It sets out to eliminate the use of antibiotics defined by the WHO as HPCIA in our chicken supply chain by 2027. Additionally, the routine preventative use of antibiotics and the use of antibiotics for growth promotion is prohibited.

Our approach to the implementation of our Chicken Antibiotics Policy takes into account various differences, including geography, maturity of market needed to make changes and ability to set up robust systems for data collection.

We are focused on expanding our efforts globally year over year. Since February 2019, we’ve tracked antibiotic use in over 2.9 billion birds from 80 suppliers for 88 separate medicines, resulting in significant reductions in antibiotic use across our supply chain. We partner with Farm Animal Initiative (FAI), a farm animal and agricultural research company based in Oxford, UK, on data collection and third-party verification of producer data.

Our Actions


Implementing a Global Chicken Antibiotics Policy

As part of our commitment to use responsibly sourced chicken, in 2017 we released our Chicken Antibiotics Policy in markets around the world.2 It sets out to eliminate the use of antibiotics defined by the WHO as HPCIA in our chicken supply chain by 2027. Additionally, the routine preventative use of antibiotics and the use of antibiotics for growth promotion is prohibited.

Our approach to the implementation of our Chicken Antibiotics Policy takes into account various differences, including geography, maturity of market needed to make changes and ability to set up robust systems for data collection.

We are focused on expanding our efforts globally year over year. Since February 2019, we’ve tracked antibiotic use in over 2.9 billion birds from 80 suppliers for 88 separate medicines, resulting in significant reductions in antibiotic use across our supply chain. We partner with Farm Animal Initiative (FAI), a farm animal and agricultural research company based in Oxford, UK, on data collection and third-party verification of producer data.

Reducing Antibiotic Use in Beef

As part of our commitment to responsibly source beef, we implemented our Antibiotic Use Policy for Beef and Dairy Beef (PDF – 520kb) in 2018, committing to a 10-market pilot test to establish market-specific baseline use to further shape market-specific reduction targets where appropriate. Informed by the VAS, our beef policy is time-bound, actionable and follows global guidance from expert bodies like the WHO and Organization for Animal Health. This commitment fits within our broader beef sustainability efforts.

In partnership with our suppliers and producers, our long-term goal is the overall reduction of antibiotics important to human health, as defined by the WHO, across our top 10 beef sourcing markets, representing more than 85% of our global beef supply chain. This is also consistent with the 3 Rs framework (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) and the One Health approach, and in line with our VAS.

Responsible use starts with understanding how, when and why antibiotics are used in our beef supply chain. Currently, there is limited antibiotic usage data available across the global beef industry. As such, McDonald’s, in collaboration with our suppliers and beef producers, has established a global pilot test inclusive of commercial feed lot operations, small farm operations and dairies to collect data informing future work within our supply chain. As with chicken, we have partnered with FAI Farms in Oxford, UK, which collects and checks data independent of McDonald’s in relation to antibiotic use within our beef supply chain during our pilot test.

As outlined in our VAS, McDonald’s is also committed to developing species-specific antibiotics policies in pork. A pork antibiotics policy is under development.

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Reducing Antibiotic Use in Beef

As part of our commitment to responsibly source beef, we implemented our Antibiotic Use Policy for Beef and Dairy Beef (PDF – 520kb) in 2018, committing to a 10-market pilot test to establish market-specific baseline use to further shape market-specific reduction targets where appropriate. Informed by the VAS, our beef policy is time-bound, actionable and follows global guidance from expert bodies like the WHO and Organization for Animal Health. This commitment fits within our broader beef sustainability efforts.

In partnership with our suppliers and producers, our long-term goal is the overall reduction of antibiotics important to human health, as defined by the WHO, across our top 10 beef sourcing markets, representing more than 85% of our global beef supply chain. This is also consistent with the 3 Rs framework (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) and the One Health approach, and in line with our VAS.

Responsible use starts with understanding how, when and why antibiotics are used in our beef supply chain. Currently, there is limited antibiotic usage data available across the global beef industry. As such, McDonald’s, in collaboration with our suppliers and beef producers, has established a global pilot test inclusive of commercial feed lot operations, small farm operations and dairies to collect data informing future work within our supply chain. As with chicken, we have partnered with FAI Farms in Oxford, UK, which collects and checks data independent of McDonald’s in relation to antibiotic use within our beef supply chain during our pilot test.

As outlined in our VAS, McDonald’s is also committed to developing species-specific antibiotics policies in pork. A pork antibiotics policy is under development.

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Our Performance

Our Performance

Goal

Goal

Eliminate the use of antibiotics defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Highest Priority Critically Important (HPCIA) to human medicine – as defined by the WHO – from all chicken served by 2027.

Eliminate the use of antibiotics defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Highest Priority Critically Important (HPCIA) to human medicine – as defined by the WHO – from all chicken served by 2027.

Progress

Progress

We strive to eliminate HPCIAs in the following nine markets by 2027. So far, we have achieved the following:

Australia

All chicken suppliers eliminated the use of HPCIAs in our chicken supply chain as of July 2019.


Brazil

HPCIAs have been eliminated in broiler chicken since 2018.
 

Canada

HPCIAs have been eliminated in broiler chicken since 2018.


China

On track to remove HPCIAs by 2027.


Europe

All chicken suppliers eliminated the use of HPCIAs in our chicken supply chain as of July 2019.


Japan

HPCIAs have been eliminated in broiler chicken since 2018.


Russia

Granted extension until 2021 to onboard new suppliers. 


South Korea

Granted extension until end of 2021 to onboard new suppliers. 
 

U.S.

In July 2016, reached commitment to serve chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.*

*Farmers still use ionophores, a class of antibiotics that are not prescribed to people, to help keep chickens healthy.

We strive to eliminate HPCIAs in the following nine markets by 2027. So far, we have achieved the following:

Australia

All chicken suppliers eliminated the use of HPCIAs in our chicken supply chain as of July 2019.


Brazil

HPCIAs have been eliminated in broiler chicken since 2018.
 

Canada

HPCIAs have been eliminated in broiler chicken since 2018.


China

On track to remove HPCIAs by 2027.


Europe

All chicken suppliers eliminated the use of HPCIAs in our chicken supply chain as of July 2019.


Japan

HPCIAs have been eliminated in broiler chicken since 2018.


Russia

Granted extension until 2021 to onboard new suppliers. 


South Korea

Granted extension until end of 2021 to onboard new suppliers. 
 

U.S.

In July 2016, reached commitment to serve chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.*

*Farmers still use ionophores, a class of antibiotics that are not prescribed to people, to help keep chickens healthy.

Goal

Goal

In collaboration with our suppliers, producers and farmer partners, we will reduce the overall use of medically important antibiotics – as defined by the WHO – in our beef supply chain.

In collaboration with our suppliers, producers and farmer partners, we will reduce the overall use of medically important antibiotics – as defined by the WHO – in our beef supply chain.

Progress

Progress

McDonald’s has established pilots in each of our top 10 beef sourcing countries. Within each of these 10 countries, there are pilot farms selected that represent differing geographies and rearing practices covering commercial feedlots, small producers and dairies.

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McDonald’s has established pilots in each of our top 10 beef sourcing countries. Within each of these 10 countries, there are pilot farms selected that represent differing geographies and rearing practices covering commercial feedlots, small producers and dairies.

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Footnotes

1 https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-11-2017-stop-using-antibiotics-in-healthy-animals-to-prevent-the-spread-of-antibiotic-resistance

2 Markets covered by the policy include: Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Australia, Russia, China and Europe. For the sake of this policy, Europe includes the following countries: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Ukraine.

3 Markets covered by the goal include: Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Australia, Russia, China and Europe. For the sake of this goal, Europe includes the following countries: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Ukraine.

4 This goal focuses on our top 10 beef sourcing countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, the U.K. and the U.S.

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Footnotes

1 https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-11-2017-stop-using-antibiotics-in-healthy-animals-to-prevent-the-spread-of-antibiotic-resistance

2 Markets covered by the policy include: Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Australia, Russia, China and Europe. For the sake of this policy, Europe includes the following countries: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Ukraine.

3 Markets covered by the goal include: Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Australia, Russia, China and Europe. For the sake of this goal, Europe includes the following countries: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Ukraine.

4 This goal focuses on our top 10 beef sourcing countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, the U.K. and the U.S.

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