OAK BROOK, Ill. – In a March 3 announcement, McDonald's US said it will only buy chicken raised without antibiotics that are medically important to human health. The company made the announcement as part of new menu sourcing initiatives. McDonald's operates approximately 14,000 restaurants in the United States.
McDonald's is working closely with its chicken suppliers to implement the new antibiotics policy within the next two years.
"Our customers want food that they feel great about eating — all the way from the farm to the restaurant -- and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations," Mike Andres, McDonald's US president, said in a statement.
The company said that while McDonald's restaurants will only serve chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine, farmers who supply chicken for its menu will continue to responsibly use ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used for humans.
"McDonald's believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care and our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed antibiotics, and then they will no longer be included in our food supply," said Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald's North America Supply Chain.
"If fewer chickens get sick, then fewer chickens need to be treated with antibiotics that are important in human medicine. We believe this is an essential balance," Gross added.
As part of the company's sourcing initiative, McDonald's has joined the US Roundtable on Sustainable Beef. In January 2014, McDonald's Corp. announced plans to purchase verified sustainable beef in 2016. The company said: This engagement is a critical step in support of the company's global commitment and effort to source verified sustainable beef.
In addition to the new poultry sourcing policy, McDonald's US restaurants also will offer low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk from cows that are not treated with rbST, a growth hormone.
"While no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows, we understand this is something that is important to our customers," Gross said.