Consumer Group Calls on McDonalds: Help Save Antibiotics!

U.S. PIRG Ed Fund


Sujatha Jahagirdar, Stop Antibiotics Overuse Program Director

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Consumer Group Calls on McDonalds: Help Save Antibiotics!

CITY — U.S. PIRG Education Fund launched a national campaign today asking McDonald’s to stop the purchase of meat raised with antibiotics. As one of the largest purchasers of beef, pork and chicken in the United States, such a commitment from McDonald’s would help tackle the growing public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. 

“People are becoming increasingly aware of the growing public health crisis surrounding antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the role that factory farms play in overusing antibiotics,” said Sujatha Jahagirdar, Program Director of USPIRG Education Fund’s Stop Antibiotics Overuse Campaign. “If McDonald’s switched to antibiotic-free meat for Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, and the rest of their menu, it would benefit everyone – not just McDonald’s consumers.”

At the campaign launch in front of a McDonald’s near Metro Center in Washington, D.C., USPIRG Education Fund staff and volunteers distributed guides for consumers highlighting fast and casual food restaurants in the immediate area and across the state that have made commitments to serve meat raised without antibiotics. For instance, Chick-fil-A has made a commitment to only purchase chicken raised without antibiotics within five years. Local and regional chains, such as Elevation Burger  also only sell hamburgers and chicken raised without antibiotics.  

While McDonalds instituted a policy in 2003 to address the use of antibiotics in their meat supply, the policy allows for continued use of antibiotics to prevent disease caused by unhealthy production practices and does not apply to all suppliers and meats sold by the restaurant.

“McDonalds should hear what their customers want – meat raised without antibiotics,” said Jahagirdar.  “Consumers, especially Millennials, want to preserve these drugs for generations to come.” 

Due to overuse, medical experts warn that antibiotics could stop working – with grave consequences for public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year at least two million Americans become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Despite this threat to public health, many large factory farms routinely give antibiotics to healthy livestock in order to increase growth and prevent disease, often caused by unhealthy production practices. Up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are for use on livestock and poultry.  

One of the world’s largest fast food chains in the world, McDonald’s sells more than one billion pounds of beef each year. If McDonald’s required its suppliers to stop raising meat with antibiotics, large volumes of antibiotics would no longer be overused. In addition, should a restaurant chain the size of McDonald’s make this commitment, it would send a strong signal to meat producers that this is the way of the future.

“It’s time for the global leader in selling hamburgers to step up and be a global leader in stopping the overuse of antibiotics,” said Jahagirdar.


Click here to download our D.C. Consumer Guide for which restaurants have taken steps to transition away from using meat raised with antibiotics.