McDonald’s Announces Plan to Cut Overuse of Antibiotics in Chicken

Media Contacts
Dev Gowda

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

Illinois PIRG

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 important antibiotics on their chickens, a practice that is now commonplace, even when animals are healthy.

“This is a super-sized change for McDonald’s, and we’re lovin’ it,” said Dev Gowda, Advocate with Illinois PIRG (Public Interest Research Group). They will signal to the marketplace a huge and growing demand for chicken raised without 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.

Illinois PIRG has 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, 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.

Yesterday, Gowda delivered over 30,000 petition signatures to McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, IL asking the chain to serve meat raised without antibiotics.

With its new policy, McDonald’s joins companies like Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Hannah’s Bretzel, Sopraffina Marketcaffe, and many others that have made strong commitments to help save antibiotics.

However, 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 Gowda. “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.”