McDonald's Corporation: Request for Report on Antibiotics in Livestock

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Phase Out Antibiotic Use in Healthy Animals

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the President’s Council on Science and Technology have reported antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis that threatens to overturn many of the medical advances made over the last century. 

WHEREAS, antibiotic resistant infections cause over 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year in the U.S. with a cost to society of $55 to $70 billion, a major factor of which is the overuse of these lifesaving drugs in human medicine and in animal agriculture. 

WHEREAS, in the U. S., over 70 percent of antibiotics in classes important for human medicine are sold for use in food producing animals.    

WHEREAS, antibiotics are often used to increase the rate at which animals gain weight or to prevent illness caused by unhealthy conditions on farms, rather than to treat illness. 

WHEREAS, in 2015 McDonald’s updated its policy for U.S restaurants to source only chickens that are not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine, demonstrating the growing value of meat raised with fewer antibiotics.  However, McDonald’s has not committed to similar sourcing for chicken outside the U.S.,  nor for sourcing of beef or for pork from animals raised without antibiotics important to human medicine.  Instead, McDonald’s continues to purchase from suppliers that allow antibiotics important to human medicine to be used routinely (e.g. for growth promotion or disease prevention). 

RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board update the 2015 McDonald’s Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals by adopting the following policy regarding use of antibiotics by its meat suppliers: 

  • Prohibit the use of antibiotics important to human medicine globally in the meat supply chain (including for chicken, beef, and pork), for purposes other than disease treatment or non-routine control of veterinarian-diagnosed illness (e.g. prohibit use for growth promotion and routine disease prevention also known as prophylaxis). 

  • Identify timelines for global implementation of vision including for meats currently not supplied by dedicated suppliers. 

Supporting Statement:  
In 2015, McDonald’s adopted a U.S. policy to source chicken that is not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine, but did not create a similar policy for pork, beef, or chicken outside the U.S. 

Since 2003, consumer concern about antibiotic resistance and demand for meat produced without routine antibiotics has increased significantly. 

In a recent survey of American adults, Crain’s Chicago Business found that at least 34 percent would be more likely to eat at McDonald’s if they served meat raised without antibiotics and hormones.  McDonald’s can improve its market position and regain its leadership on this issue by updating its 2003 policy to reflect these consumer preferences.  In 2014 CKE Restaurants Inc., said it would become the first major fast-food company to offer a burger free of hormones, antibiotics, and steroids, from grass-fed cattle; Chipotle restaurants began serving antibiotic-free pork in 2000 and antibiotic-free beef in 2003 highlighting opportunities for market leadership.  

Resolution Details

McDonald's Corporation

Co-lead Filers: 
As You Sow and Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas

Year: 2016

Filing Date: 
November 2015

Initiative(s): Antibiotics and Factory Farms

Status: 26.3%

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