CHICAGO –  McDonald’s Corp. announced on Dec. 11 that the company will have a new beef antibiotic policy that will apply to 85 percent of its global beef supply chain.

The company said it developed this policy over the last year and a half while working with veterinarians, public health leaders and the beef producers responsible for the health of animals.

“McDonald’s believes antibiotic resistance is a critical public health issue, and we take seriously our unique position to use our scale for good to continue to address this challenge,” said Keith Kenny, McDonald’s global vice president for sustainability. “We are excited to partner with our beef supply chain around the world to accelerate the responsible use of antibiotics, whilst continuing to look after the health and welfare of those animals in our supply chain.”

The fast-food chain committed to specific targets to remove antibiotics from the supply chain.

  • First, McDonald’s is partnering with supplying beef producers in the company’s top 10 beef sourcing markets to measure and understand current usage of antibiotics across a diverse, global supply chain;
  • By the end of 2020, McDonald’s will establish reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for these markets; and
  • Starting in 2022 – the company will report progress against antibiotic reduction targets across those top 10 beef sourcing markets.

“The path for creating and implementing a global antibiotic use policy for beef is unprecedented,” said Dan Thomson, MS, PhD, DVM, college of veterinary medicine at Kansas State Univ. “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.”

McDonald’s also announced that it is joining the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge.

McDonald’s began rolling out its change from frozen beef to fresh beef in March 2018. The company also noted that it stopped serving chicken meat in the US from birds raised using antibiotics important to human medicine in 2016 and expanded that policy around the world in 2017.

“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,” the company said in a statement. “With this in mind, we remain committed to treating animals when needed.”