McDonald’s announces plan to cut overuse of antibiotics in chicken

Media Contacts
Andrew Fish

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


Boston, March 4 – 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 Andrew Fish, MASSPIRG Campaign Organizer. “This action will signal to the marketplace a large and growing demand for chicken raised without the routine use of 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.

MASSPIRG and other state PIRGs have been running a 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 powerful responses online and in communities and campuses around the state and the nation. From tens of thousands of people emailing the company, to a daily dose of online social media posts using the hashtag #McDonaldsSaveABX, McDonald’s has heard from customers and others urging them to make a change. The public health concern is so severe that over the course of the past year, more than 10,000 medical professionals around the country, including 615 in Massachusetts, have signed a petition calling for stricter regulations around the use of antibiotics on factory farms. 

With its new policy, McDonald’s will join national companies like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A, and local Boston chains like b. good and Tasty Burger, in making a strong commitment to help save antibiotics.

However, early reports indicate that McDonald’s has 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, we need a comprehensive approach to stopping the overuse of antibiotics in all meats,” said Fish. “The announcement today is big step forward, but McDonald’s shouldn’t chicken out when it comes to setting a policy for beef and pork.” 

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MASSPIRG, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan organization that takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and our wellbeing.