McDonald’s Announces Policy to Eliminate Overuse of Antibiotics in Beef


MEDIA CONTACT: Stefanie Spear, [email protected], 216-387-1609

Oakland, California—Dec. 11, 2018—Today, McDonald’s became the first major fast food chain to establish a comprehensive policy to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its beef supply chain. McDonald’s is the world’s largest burger chain and the single largest purchaser of beef in the U.S. Its announcement, committing the company to reduce antibiotics use in 85% of the beef it purchases, has transformational implications for the beef industry and for public health.

“We expect this to be the first of many commitments from food companies to purchase beef raised without medically important antibiotics; importantly, this means that the beef industry will need to change their practices to meet this growing demand,” said Christy Spees, environmental health program manager at As You Sow.

Shareholders have been instrumental in helping drive this outcome. As You Sow filed shareholder resolutions with the company in 2016, 2017, and 2018 in partnership with Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, asking the company to end the use of medically important antibiotics in its meat supply chains. The resolutions received significant votes of support from investors. McDonald’s successfully cleaned up its chicken supply in August 2016.

In October, a group of advocacy organizations seeking an end to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals published the fourth edition of the “Chain Reaction” report card. This year’s report rated burger companies for antibiotics policies on beef. Most of the companies received failing grades, including McDonald’s.

“There is still significant work to be done by food companies to curb the use of antibiotics,” said Spees. “But, with McDonald’s leading the way, there is no reason why other major fast food chains should not follow with their own commitments to source responsibly raised beef.

“We look forward to continuing to engage the company on establishing a similar policy for its pork supply chain, but today we are happy to congratulate McDonald’s on this positive step forward.”

To learn more about As You Sow’s work on antibiotics and factory farms, click here.

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As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. See our resolutions here.