McDonald’s Global Antibiotics Policy

US - McDonald's press release directing its meat suppliers to phase out the routine use of growth promoting antibiotics in livestock feed.
calendar icon 24 June 2003
clock icon 4 minute read

Antibiotics are powerful weapons against diseases, but overuse can fuel bacterial resistance, increasing risks to human and animal health. To help address the problem, we have issued a global policy on antibiotic use in food animals raised for the McDonald’s system. As with all our social responsibility efforts, this policy aims to foster real, tangible changes in our own supply community and beyond.

Antibiotic Resistance

Scientific evidence shows that disease-causing bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics that were formerly effective against them. Understanding of the problem is still developing, but there is an increasing consensus that overuse of antibiotics is fueling the growth of resistance. There is also scientific research linking human resistance to antibiotics used to treat foodborne illnesses to the use of antibiotics in food animals.

Antibiotics are essential for preventing, controlling, and treating diseases in animals, as in people. However, they are also used to promote animal growth. Eliminating this type of use will help sustain the long-term effectiveness of antibiotics as vital weapons against illness.

McDonald’s Global Antibiotics Policy

McDonald’s global antibiotics policy is intended to complement other ongoing scientific and regulatory efforts to address the problem of antibiotic resistance. The policy was developed in consultation with a variety of experts, including physicians, animal health and welfare specialists, environmentalists, suppliers, and food retailers.

The policy is rooted in our commitment to sustainability. This means that its driving purpose is to protect natural resources, people, and communities now and in the future while creating economic value.

The requirements of the policy apply to all meat suppliers that have facilities dedicated to producing products for the McDonald’s system and control the stages of production where antibiotics are most likely to be used (“direct relationship suppliers”). They must:

  • Follow specific Guiding Principles for Sustainable Use.
  • Phase out, by the end of 2004, the use for the purpose of growth promotion of antibiotics that belong to classes of compounds approved for use in human medicine.
Direct relationship suppliers must certify their commitment to complying with the policy in all their operations, worldwide, that supply the McDonald’s system. They must also establish procedures for assuring compliance, including records of their uses of antibiotics, internal monitoring programs, and regular audits.

Where we do not have direct relationships with suppliers, compliance with the policy will be a favorable factor in purchasing decisions.

We know that scientific research on antibiotic resistance continues and plan to update our policy as necessary to keep pace with increased scientific understanding and regulatory developments.

Guiding Principles for Sustainable Use:

  • Reaffirm our strong commitments to food safety and animal welfare.
  • Require emphasis on disease prevention strategies like good animal husbandry, hygiene, and immunization rather than antibiotics.
  • Recognize, as a complement to good animal husbandry, the appropriate use of antibiotics to treat animals that are ill or at immediate risk of becoming ill.
  • Require that antibiotics be used only under the oversight of a qualified veterinarian and in accordance with applicable regulations, current pharmacological information and principles, and product license requirements or as directed by a veterinarian.
  • Put people first, by requiring that antibiotics in classes of drugs used to treat humans be used in animals only for disease control and prevention, as allowed by government regulations, and after thorough consideration of alternatives.
  • Establish requirements to limit animals’ exposure to antibiotics used for disease treatment, control, or prevention.
  • Require suppliers to keep accurate records demonstrating compliance with our antibiotics policy, including elimination of the use for growth promotion of antibiotics belonging to classes of compounds approved for use in human medicine.
Click here to read the complete text of "Global Policy on Antibiotic Use in Food Animals"

Source: McDonalds - 24th June 2003
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