SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Arcos Dorados, McDonald’s largest independent franchisee, said the company will expand is beef purchasing program to include more sustainably produced beef.

Under this preferred production model, companies must meet criteria established by the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock which is an organization comprised of stakeholders in the value chain of cattle production in Brazil. Producers also must follow international best practices which include establishing zero-deforestation plans, eliminating locations in protected or indigenous areas, not using slave or child labor, and complying with regular verification audits by external entities.

To date, Arcos Dorados has quadrupled the amount of animal protein sourced through this livestock production model, the company said.

“We have a long-standing global commitment to sustainability, which we call our Scale for Good,” said Gabriel Serber, Arcos Dorados’ director of Sustainable Development and Social Impact. “Scale for Good is divided into five key subject areas: Child Nutrition, Sustainable Beef, Packaging and Recycling, Climate Change, and Opportunities and Training for Youth Employment.

“This initiative therefore reinforces Arcos Dorados’ strategy to leverage our scale in order to positively impact our communities and the planet,” he said. “Our goal of progressively increasing the consumption of sustainable beef is one of the many ways we can drive change while positively influencing the market.”

Arcos Dorados is the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee in terms of system wide sales and number of restaurants, operating the largest quick-service restaurant chain in Latin America and the Caribbean. The company operates or franchises more than 2,200 McDonald’s branded restaurants with more than 90,000 employees.