The chain outlined its goals for antibiotic stewardship in the company’s Global Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship in Food Animals (VAS). “…McDonald’s is committed to reducing the need for antibiotics, and has a preference for raw materials (beef, poultry, pork, dairy cows and laying hens and defined as “Food Animals”) supplied through progressive farming practices including the Responsible Use of Antibiotics,” the company said. “As one of the world’s largest food companies, we will seize the opportunity to use its scale for good, to influence industry change on the issue of Responsible Use of Antibiotics.”
Starting in 2018, McDonald’s will begin implementing a new antibiotics policy for broiler chickens, which will require suppliers to eliminate highest priority critically important antibiotics (HPCIAs). HPCIAs will be eliminated in broiler chicken January 2018 for Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United States, and Europe, with an exception for Colistin for Europe only.
By the end of 2019, HPCIAs will be eliminated in broiler chickens for Australia and Russia. Europe plans to have removed Colistin by then, according to the company.
Finally, McDonald’s said HPCIAs will be eliminated in all its other designated markets around the world, with the goal of implementing the policy before January 2027. The company released a timeline of its journey toward sustainable supplies of chicken.
Groups such as the Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, applauded McDonald’s announcement. In an Aug. 17 meeting with consumer and environmental groups McDonald’s stated that 74 percent of its global chicken sales will conform to the new policy by January 2018, followed by 80 percent in 2019, according to Consumers Union. By 2027, 98 percent of the chicken sold by McDonald’s internationally will be sourced from suppliers that abide by this policy.
“The widespread use of antibiotics on livestock that aren’t sick is contributing to a global public health crisis with potentially dire consequences,” Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, said in a statement. “McDonald’s plan is a bold vision that will help preserve the effectiveness of these critical medications to fight infections and keep us healthy. If fully implemented, it could be a total game changer that could transform the marketplace given the company’s massive buying power.”