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NRDC: McDonald’s Quietly Updates Policies on Antibiotic Use in Beef Supplies, Continues Touting Empty Promises

CHICAGO (December 20, 2022) – After a two-year delay in releasing reduction targets related to its 2018 antibiotic use policy for beef supply chains, McDonald’s has pivoted and quietly published a new, weaker approach, instead. While the new policy encourages U.S. suppliers to drastically lower antibiotic use intensity, it fails to detail a rollout plan or a time-bound completion date to ensure accountability across the McDonald’s supply chain.

The following is a statement from Lena Brook, Director of Food Campaigns at NRDC:

“Despite the urgency of the global antibiotic resistance crisis, McDonald’s chose optics over substance with its new beef policy update. This is especially disappointing given that McDonald’s is the largest beef buyer in the world and that the health threat posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria continues unabated.”

Background:

Nearly two-thirds of all medically important antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for use on food animals, and are typically administered en masse to healthy livestock on a routine basis to compensate for unsanitary, stressful conditions on industrial farms. The misuse of these medicines has contributed to the rise and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria–a growing public health crisis killing 1.3 million people globally every year.

In 2015, NRDC and other advocacy groups published the first Chain Reaction scorecard, a groundbreaking report that sparked national conversations around the negative health and environmental impacts of antibiotic overuse in food. The report, which has been updated annually through 2021, ranks policy commitments from the nation’s leading fast food and fast casual restaurants on their antibiotic stewardship efforts in beef. McDonald’s earned a C grade in the scorecard’s latest rankings for its prior beef policy.

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