State Director, Illinois PIRG
State Director, Illinois PIRG
Director, Public Health Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Matt Wellington, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, [email protected], 1-845-591-5646
Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG Education Fund, [email protected], 312-983-2789
CHICAGO — As McDonald’s executives gathered today for the company’s annual shareholder meeting, consumer and public health groups held an event at McDonald’s headquarters calling on the world’s largest fast food chain to address antibiotic resistance. U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Consumers Union, Food Animal Concerns Trust, and CREDO Action delivered 160,000 petition signatures from consumers across the United States urging McDonald’s to eliminate beef raised with routine antibiotic use from its supply chain.
The World Health Organization has called for ending use for growth promotion and severely restricting the routine use of medically-important antibiotics for disease prevention on animals that aren’t sick, a common meat industry practice that breeds “superbugs.” Approximately 70 percent of the medically-important antibiotics sold in the U.S. go to food animals.
“McDonald’s could be a hero in efforts to combat antibiotic resistance” said Matthew Wellington, Antibiotics Program director, U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “McDonald’s has said that it wants to use its size and scale for good. To make good on that commitment and truly be a hero, it should eliminate routine antibiotic use in its beef supply chain.”
In early March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new Vital Signs report that identified “nightmare bacteria,” infection-causing germs resistant to our strongest antibiotics, in 27 states. Without swift action to reduce antibiotic use, experts estimate that drug-resistant infections could kill 10 million people worldwide each year by 2050.
“Resistant bacteria move freely between animals and people. We must end the routine use of antibiotics in animals in order to preserve these drugs for curing human disease. McDonald’s is in a unique position to lead the industry by prohibiting antibiotic use in the production of its burgers,” says Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.
McDonald’s stopped serving chicken raised with medically-important antibiotics in 2016, ahead of its own schedule. At the time, consumer and health advocates, including U.S. PIRG Education Fund and our partners, applauded the company’s actions and influence. McDonald’s has also released a vision for phasing routine antibiotic use out of its entire meat supply chain globally, but it has yet to commit to a timeline for making that vision a reality.
Nearly 90 national and international stakeholders have called on McDonald’s to implement a timeline for reducing antibiotic use in its beef supply. The company is the largest beef purchaser in the U.S., and if it takes such a step, the impact would ripple throughout the meat industry.
“McDonald’s was a leader in reducing antibiotics in its chicken supply and helped lead the chicken industry overall to change. Now McDonald’s is looking at pork and beef. Done right this could be a turning point in reducing antibiotic overuse for the meat industry as a whole,” says Steve Roach, Food Safety Program director for Food Animal Concerns Trust.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization. It is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.
Consumers Union is the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is a Chicago based advocacy organization that promotes the safe and humane production of meat, milk, and eggs. FACT envisions that all food-producing animals will be raised in a healthy and humane manner so that everyone will have access to safe and humanely-produced food.