McDonald’s announces plan to cut overuse of antibiotics in chicken

Action hailed as ‘super-sized’ step in saving antibiotics; early reports indicate need for timeline on beef and pork


McDonald’s announced a new policy today to curb the overuse of antibiotics in raising the chickens that ultimately become McNuggets or other McDonald’s products.   Within two years, farming operations supplying McDonald’s USA restaurants will not be allowed to use medically medically important antibiotics to chickens, a practice that is commonplace, even when animals are healthy.

“This is a super-sized change for McDonald’s, and we’re lovin’ it,” said Sean Doyle, Campaign Organizer with ConnPIRG. “This is a signal to the marketplace about the huge and growing demand for chicken raised without the routine use of antibiotics.”

McDonald’s is one of the nation’s largest purchasers of meat, and their commitment will vastly increase the demand for chicken raised without medically-important antibiotics. McDonald’s sells enough fast food to make them the 68th largest economy in the world—larger than Ecuador.

ConnPIRG and U.S. PIRG have been running a national campaign asking McDonald’s to help tackle the growing public health crisis of antibiotic resistance by switching to meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics. There have been ‘super-sized’ responses in communities and on campuses around the nation, and online. From tens of thousands of people emailing the company, hundreds of phone calls to McDonald’s headquarters, to a daily dose of online social media posts using the hashtag #McDonaldsSaveABX, the company has heard from customers and others urging them to make a change.

With its new policy, McDonald’s joins companies like Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Elevation Burger, Shake Shack and many others that have made strong commitments to help save antibiotics.

However, early reports indicate McDonald’s did not set a timeline for serving beef and pork raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

“With more than 23,000 Americans dying each year from antibiotic resistant infections, more must be done to stop the overuse of antibiotics in all meats,” said Doyle. “We’re thrilled with the McDonalds’ announcement today, but we don’t want them to chicken out when it comes to setting a policy for beef and pork.”