Restaurant Brands International: Request for Report on Prohibiting Non-therapeutic Use of Antibiotics in Livestock
Whereas: The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis that threatens to overturn many of the medical advances made over the last century.
The Canadian Auditor General 2015 spring report claims that Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have “not fulfilled key responsibilities to mitigate the public health risks posed by the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in Canada.” In 2011, the Public Health Agency of Canada identified antimicrobial resistance as “one of the highest public health risks facing Canadians.”
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. Estimates indicate these infections will kill 10 million people a year worldwide by 2050. (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance).
A major factor of antibiotic resistance is the overuse and misuse of these lifesaving drugs in meat production. In 2011, livestock consumed 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Antibiotics are often fed to livestock to increase the rate at which animals gain weight, or to prevent illness caused by unhealthy conditions on farms, rather than to treat illness.
A 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that antibiotic use in agriculture could be reduced without significant costs to producers, and that practices such as increased sanitation and vaccination could be substituted for antibiotics. (“The Transformation of U.S. Livestock Agriculture Scale, Efficiency, and Risks”).
Restaurant Brands International’s subsidiary companies Burger King and Tim Hortons do not disclose antibiotic use policies on their websites.
Many of Restaurant Brands International’s competitors have taken action on antibiotics. McDonald’s has committed to phase out antibiotics that are important for human medicine used for any purpose in their U.S. poultry supply chains by 2016. Tyson Foods will phase out all antibiotics used in human medicine by 2017. Perdue Farms has committed to antibiotic-free chicken hatcheries. Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill prohibit routine antibiotic use in their livestock supply chains.
Resolved: Shareholders request that the company adopt an enterprise-wide policy to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in the meat supply chain (including for poultry, beef, and pork).
“Non-therapeutic use” of antibiotics is defined as:
(i) administration of antibiotics to an animal through feed and water (or, in poultry hatcheries, through any means) for purposes (such as growth promotion, feed efficiency, weight gain, or disease prevention) other than therapeutic use or non-routine disease control; and includes
(ii) any repeated or regular pattern of use of antimicrobials for purposes other than therapeutic use or non-routine disease control.
Shareholders request that the Board report to shareowners within six months of the annual meeting, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on the timetable and measures for implementing this policy.