Responsible Antibiotic Use

At McDonald’s, we are working to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics in our supply chain, including reducing the use of medically important antibiotics in food animal production.

Broiler chicken

Our focus is on refining antibiotic selection and administration, reducing non-therapeutic antibiotic use and, when possible, replacing antibiotics with long-term solutions to proactively prevent disease and protect animal health and welfare. We remain committed to the treatment of sick animals aligned with herd veterinarian direction to ensure the safety of our supply chain. 

Our longstanding commitment to the reduction of antibiotic use in food animals – including reducing the use of medically important antibiotics as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) –spans over 18 years, since we outlined our position on antibiotic use in our supply chain in 2003.  

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

Also on this page, you can see Our Performance for more detail on our achievements and Footnotes for an explanation of the scope and definition of our commitments.

Our Strategy

Responsible Use of Antibiotics to Treat Sick Animals

McDonald’s can play a key role in creating awareness throughout our supply chain on responsible antibiotic use, following guidelines set out by the WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health (formerly the OIE) and other recognized public and animal health bodies.

We are committed to a responsible-use approach – refining antibiotic selection and administration, reducing non-therapeutic antibiotic use and, when possible, replacing antibiotics with long-term solutions to proactively prevent diseases and protect animal health and welfare, as outlined in our revised 2017 Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship (VAS). We believe that reducing any overdependence on antibiotics within our supply chain complements our decades-long commitment to managing and improving the health and welfare of animals.

According to the WHO, “over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance.”1 Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a critical global public health issue that we believe we have a role to help address. We take this seriously, striving to provide antibiotic effectiveness for future generations by working across our industry and supply chain with producers, veterinarians, academics and other experts in the field.

Our protein-specific policies (chicken, beef and pork) are based on the “One Health” approach, which emphasizes the need for collaborative, multi-discipline efforts at the local, national and global levels to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

We engage with academia, suppliers, farmers and ranchers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), veterinary networks and others who have a deep understanding of these issues and of ways that progress can be made. McDonald’s was a founding member 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 AMR.

For more information on our approach to individual proteins, see the Advocating for Responsible Antibiotic Use in Beef, Implementing a Global Chicken Antibiotics Policy and Our Pork Antibiotics Use Policy sections below.

 

 

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

Our Performance

For the latest progress and information on our Animal Health & Welfare Goals, please visit our Animal Health & Welfare page.

Responsible Antibiotic Use in Chicken Supply Chain Goal

Eliminate the use of antibiotics defined by the WHO as Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HPCIAs) to human medicine from all chicken served by the end of 2027.2

Progress

HPCIA use has been eliminated in the following McDonald’s markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

China is expected to comply before the end of 2027.

Responsible Antibiotic Use in Beef Supply Chain Goal

In collaboration with our suppliers, producers and farmer partners, we will establish market-appropriate targets for use of medically important antibiotics – as defined by the WHO – in our beef supply chain.

Progress

Beef antibiotic monitoring pilot tests have been conducted in Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and Brazil. These 10 in-scope beef sourcing markets represented over 80% of our global beef supply chain as of the end of 2021. Starting in 2022, we began collaborating with industry leaders, academics, suppliers and experts to refine our measurement capabilities and plans to help shape a path forward. Following this engagement, the results from our pilots will be used to inform targets for responsible antibiotic use in our beef supply chain.3

Our Focus Areas

Advocating for Responsible Antibiotic Use in Beef

We implemented our Antibiotic Policy for Beef and Dairy Beef (PDF – 520 KB) in 2018. Our beef policy is informed by our VAS, and follows global guidance from expert bodies like the WHO and the World Organisation for Animal Health. This Policy identifies McDonald’s expectations and anticipated implementation plans for McDonald’s Antibiotic Use Policy for beef and dairy beef, focusing on the following beef sourcing countries: Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and Brazil, while ensuring compliance with local laws and regulations are met.

Due to COVID-19-related delays and knowledge gained along the way, we are evolving our plan for target-setting and have updated our Antibiotic Policy for Beef and Dairy Beef in 2022. This policy focuses on the overall reduction of medically important antibiotics (as defined by the WHO), where appropriate and measurable, with our efforts focused on 10 in-scope markets,3 which accounted for over 80% of our global beef supply chain in 2021.

To establish market-appropriate targets for the responsible use of medically important antibiotics, as defined by the WHO, we conducted pilot tests in our in our in-scope markets in partnership with producers and suppliers. We are collaborating with industry leaders, academics, suppliers and other expert stakeholders. This will help us refine the targets and measurement capabilities, and we will report insights from our pilot test baselines across our major beef markets following this engagement.

 

Implementing a Global Chicken Antibiotics Policy

Since February 2019, we’ve tracked the use of medically important antibiotics across our top 20 suppliers, representing 85 slaughter facilities and more than 5 billion birds, with producer data collection being managed by our third-party provider, the Farm Animal Initiative (FAI). We implemented our Chicken Antibiotics Policy in our top chicken sales markets around the world in 2017.2 All in-scope markets are currently on track to eliminate the use of HPCIAs in our chicken supply by the end of 2027.

 

Our Pork Antibiotic Use Policy

In 2021, we created a global, cross-functional working group to help develop an antibiotic policy for pork in our supply chain, anchored to responsible use. This draft policy has been introduced to our global suppliers, who were asked to conduct gap assessments between our policy’s requirements and their current internal policies on antibiotic use. These gap assessments are being evaluated in 2022 and will be used to inform any required updates and associated implementation timeline for the policy.

Footnotes

1 Source: WHO, Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.

2 Chicken antibiotic use: Markets covered by this goal include Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Australia, Russia, China and Europe. For the purposes of this goal, Europe includes 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, the U.K. and Ukraine. Russia is included for the purposes of performance reporting to the end of December 2021.

3 Beef antibiotic use: This goal focuses on Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, the U.K. and the U.S., which represented our top 10 beef sourcing countries and accounted for over 80% of our global beef supply chain as of the end of 2021.