Using our Scale for Good: McDonald’s New Antibiotic Policy for Beef

December 11, 2018

As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s has the opportunity to use our scale to tackle some of the most complicated challenges facing people, animals and our planet - and help drive industry-wide progress.

Today, McDonald’s is announcing a policy to reduce the overall use of antibiotics important to human health, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), which applies across 85% of our global beef supply chain.

According to the WHO, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. With our new policy, McDonald’s is doing our part to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human and animal health in the future.

McDonald’s understands that reducing the overall use of medically important antibiotics in beef is complex and cannot be accomplished overnight. Additionally, there is limited antibiotic usage data available across the global beef industry. That is why, in collaboration with our suppliers and beef producers, we are taking a strategic and phased approach:

  • First, McDonald’s is partnering with supplying beef producers in our top 10 beef sourcing markets[1] to measure and understand current usage of antibiotics across a diverse, global supply chain;
  • By the end of 2020, based on what we have learned, we will establish reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for these markets; and
  • Starting in 2022 – we will be reporting progress against antibiotic reduction targets across our top 10 beef sourcing markets. Full Policy Specifics Here.

McDonald’s has been developing this policy over the past year and a half, while consulting a cross-section of expert stakeholders from veterinarians, to public health leaders, to the beef producers responsible for taking care of the health of animals within the supply chain every day.

Our overall approach to 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.

This latest announcement builds on fifteen years of progress since McDonald’s first developed a position on responsible antibiotics use in 2003. In 2016, McDonald’s USA reached its commitment to serve only chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine, nearly one year ahead of schedule. Further, in 2017, McDonald’s announced an expanded antibiotics policy for chicken in markets around the world, as well as a refreshed Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship statement with commitments to create responsible-use antibiotic approaches for beef, dairy beef and pork.

Today, McDonald’s is also proud to join the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge. Launched in September 2018, the AMR Challenge is a yearlong effort to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the globe. Click here to learn more about McDonald’s commitment, and the more than 130 organizations who have already committed to the challenge.

We are on a journey to build a better McDonald’s. As we work in partnership with our supply chain and producer partners to address major challenges like antibiotic resistance, we’ll continue to listen to our customers to make sure we’re meeting and exceeding their expectations every day – from the farm to our restaurants.