McDonald’s announces new antibiotic use reduction policy in beef, a first-of-its-kind

"With Washington asleep at the wheel on this rising health threat, leadership in the marketplace is essential."


The largest fast-food burger chain has a plan to address the fight to save antibiotics. On Tuesday, McDonald’s announced its intent to address the use of antibiotics in its international supply chain for beef, Common Dreams reported.

The company’s new policy will require international suppliers of beef to reduce livestock antibiotics use practices starting with 10 global markets. In the United States,’ McDonald’s is the first and largest fast-food restaurant to commit to such a policy for all beef sold at its domestic restaurants.

“This important step forward raises the bar for other burger chains and sends an unmistakable market signal to beef producers worldwide,” Lena Brook, the interim director of the Food & Agriculture program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said. “With Washington asleep at the wheel on this rising health threat, leadership in the marketplace is essential.”

As “one of the first companies to end the use of medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply back in 2015,” McDonald’s new policy, which experts hope will “spark a wave of change in the beef industry,” will start implementing its new antibiotic use reduction policy next year through a pilot program with completion by 2021, NRDC reported.

The Save Antibiotics campaign, started by NRDC and supported by other groups, is working to transform livestock antibiotics use practices and slow down the rise of superbugs. 

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Because U.S. livestock producers routinely give antibiotics – the same or similar ones used by doctors – to animals that aren’t even sick, antibiotic resistance has been identified as a top health crisis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, NRDC reported.

So as the NRDC continues to pressure food industry giants, the group continues to advocate for laws that will restrict the use of medical antibiotics on animals and policies that require more company transparency.

“Though we’ve seen significant progress in the chicken industry, there is still a great deal of work ahead on beef and pork,” NRDC said on it’s website. “NRDC will continue to call on companies and policymakers to fight this growing threat to life-saving modern medicine.”