New report links beef raised with critically important antibiotics to McDonald’s

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG

WASHINGTON —  A new report released Monday by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian alleges that conventional beef producers are selling meat raised with antibiotics considered critically important to human medicine to some of the largest fast food chains in the United States, including McDonald’s.

The report puts added pressure on beef buyers to shift their suppliers away from overusing antibiotics, especially those considered valuable for human medicine. After PIRG and its partners urged McDonald’s to do so, the company announced in 2018 that it would set targets for reducing the use of medically important antibiotics in much of its global beef supply chain by the end of 2020. McDonald’s failed to meet its self-selected deadline and, according to its updated policy, the company appears to be watering down its original commitment.

PIRG and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism are hosting a Twitter Spaces event with stakeholders at 10:00 a.m. ET Monday to discuss the article’s findings. You can participate at the @TBIJ twitter page.

In response to the report, PIRG’s Public Health Campaigns Director Matt Wellington released the following statement: 

“This new report reinforces what we already know – the beef industry is overusing our life-saving medicines to produce slightly cheaper burgers and it’s making the drugs less effective for when we truly need them to squelch infections.

“While the Food and Drug Administration continues to drag its feet on the issue, it’s up to major beef buyers to use their purchasing power to dissuade meat producers from antibiotic overuse.

“McDonald’s committed in 2018 to setting clear targets for reducing antibiotic use in its beef supply chain, but has since appeared to backtrack on that commitment. This report shines the spotlight on why it’s so critical that McDonald’s and other major beef buyers follow through on setting concrete targets for reducing antibiotic use in their meat supply chains.”