Consumer Group Calls on McDonald’s: Help Save Antibiotics

Media Contacts
Andrew Fish

BOSTON, Jan. 22 – MASSPIRG 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 Andrew Fish, MASSPIRG Advocate. “If McDonald’s switched to meat raised without antibiotics for Big Macs, McNuggets, and the rest of their menu, it would benefit everyone — not just McDonald’s consumers. 

At the campaign launch in front of a downtown Boston McDonald’s, MASSPIRG staff and volunteers distributed fast food guides for consumers, highlighting fast and casual food restaurants nearby and across the state that have started serving meat raised without antibiotics.

B. good, for instance, with 11 locations in Massachusetts and 6 outside the state, serves chicken and beef raised without antibiotics. “From the beginning, we’ve focused on building a business that makes our communities better by serving real food,” said Jon Olinto, co-founder of Boston-based b. good. “As we’ve evolved, our definition of “real” has made us question the things that happen before our ingredients arrive in our kitchens. So, we’ve pushed ourselves to challenge our own supply chain and source as much protein as we can from local family farms that do not administer antibiotics to the livestock they raise.”

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.

“McDonald’s should hear what their customers want–meat raised without antibiotics,” said Elouise Doyle, President of Food for Thought, a student group at Tufts University. “Consumers, especially Millennials, are increasingly aware of the harmful impact of these practices. We care about being socially and environmentally conscious when we eat, and we 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 get sick from antibiotic-resistant infections and 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, antibiotic use would drop significantly. In addition, should Mcdonald’s make this policy shift, 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 Fish. 

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MASSPIRG Education Fund conducts research and public education on behalf of consumers and the public interest. Our research, analysis, reports and outreach serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.  Find out more at