Fast-food giant McDonald’s has introduced a new policy designed to help reduce the overall usage of antibiotics in its beef supply chain. The announcement is the company’s latest reaction to the growing concerns regarding the rise of antibiotics resistance in humans.
Antibiotics that are designed for human usage have been used in farming for many years now to help animals grow faster and larger. However, public health advocates have argued that this practice results in the formation of antibiotic-resistant germs in animals, that can cause deadly diseases in humans.
It’s a large-scale problem, as the World Health Organization (WHO) called antibiotics resistance “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today”.
McDonalds first tackled the issue of responsible antibiotic use back in 2003, and the new policy represents the company’s most recent effort to help the cause of preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics.
McDonald’s says that the policy is the result of an over a year and a half of work, during which the fast food giant collaborated with veterinarians, public health leader, as well as beef producers tasked with animal-health control.
Reducing the overall use of antibiotics is a complex issue, so to actually make a difference, McDonalds is taking a strategic and phased approach.
Since there’s not enough data related to antibiotic usage in the beef industry, the fast food maker will be working with beef producers in their top 10 beef sourcing markets to get a better understanding of the matter.
“McDonald’s believes antibiotic resistance is a critical public health issue, and we take seriously our unique position to use our scale for good to continue to address the challenge. We are excited to partner with our beef supply chain around the world to accelerate the responsible use of antibiotics, whilst continuing to look after the health and welfare of those animals in our supply chain.”
McDonalds hopes that by the end of 2020, it will be able to set reduction targets for the main antibiotics on these markets. The company ultimately aims to replace antibiotics with other long-term solutions designed to protect animal health and prevent diseases.
On top of launching its new policy, the burger maker has also announced it has joined the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge. The initiative launched in September 2018 with its primary goal being to help accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the world.