Response to Antibiotics in Chicken

August 17, 2017

Antibiotic resistance is an important issue for people and animals. McDonald’s has maintained a policy on antibiotic use in food animals since 2003. In 2017, we released an update to our Global Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship in Food Animals (VAS) which seeks to preserve antibiotic effectiveness in the future through ethical practices today. As a framework for antibiotic stewardship, the VAS seeks animal production practices that reduce, and, where possible, eliminate the need for antibiotic therapies in food animals, by adopting existing best practices and/or new practices.  With that said, we understand that animals, like people, get sick and require treatment.  Treating sick animals is consistent with McDonald’s long-standing commitment to animal health and welfare and to improve the lives of animals in our supply chain.  Engaging farmers, producers and veterinarians in the responsible use of antibiotics is key to our vision of preserving antibiotic effectiveness through ethical practices.  

With the VAS as our guiding principle, we will develop species specific policies outlining our requirements and implementation timelines for suppliers providing chicken, beef, dairy cows, pork and laying hens for use in McDonald’s restaurants. We are making progress along the way:

  • In 2016, we were proud to reach our commitment to serve broiler chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine as defined by the World Health Organization (“WHO”), in all U.S. McDonald’s restaurants nearly a year ahead of schedule. 
  • Starting in 2018, we will begin implementing a new broiler chicken antibiotics policy in markets around the world[1], which will require the elimination of antibiotics defined by the WHO as Highest Priority Critically Important (“HPCIA”) to human medicine. To make sure this policy can be effectively implemented, we are taking a tiered approach.
    • January 2018 – HPCIAs will be eliminated in broiler chicken for Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., and Europe1, with an exception for Colistin for Europe only.
    • End of 2019 – HPCIAs will be eliminated in broiler chicken for Australia and Russia, and Europe plans to have removed Colistin. 
    • January 2027 – HPCIAs will be eliminated in all other designated markets1 around the world. Our goal is to have this policy implemented before this date.

We view this progress as significant milestones in our food journey, where we can achieve impactful change on a key issue, and we feel that these timelines give McDonald’s and suppliers the ability to set credible, achievable goals. To learn more about our sustainability journey for chicken, check out our downloadable timeline

[1] 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.