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McDonald’s announces plan to cut overuse of antibiotics in chicken

Action hailed as ‘super-sized’ step in saving antibiotics; timeline needed on beef and pork
For Immediate Release

McDonald’s announced a new policy today to curb the overuse of antibiotics in raising the chickens that ultimately become McNuggets or other McDonald’s products. Within two years, farming operations supplying McDonald’s USA restaurants will not be allowed to use medically important antibiotics on their chickens, a practice that is now commonplace, even when animals are healthy. The announcement comes as Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill to make Oregon the first state to curtail the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals in the state.

“This is a super-sized change for McDonald’s, and we’re lovin’ it,” said Dave Rosenfeld, executive director of the consumer group OSPIRG, “They will signal to the marketplace a huge and growing demand for chicken raised without antibiotics.” 

McDonald’s is one of the nation’s largest purchasers of meat, and their commitment will vastly increase the demand for chicken raised without medically-important antibiotics. McDonald’s sells enough fast food to make them the 68th largest economy in the world—larger than Ecuador. 

 OSPIRG and its national federation U.S. PIRG has been running a national campaign asking McDonald’s to help tackle the growing public health crisis of antibiotic resistance by switching to meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics. There have been ‘super-sized’ responses in communities and on campuses around the nation, and online. From tens of thousands of people emailing the company, to a daily dose of online social media posts using the hashtag #McDonaldsSaveABX, the company has heard from customers and others urging them to make a change. 

 With its new policy, McDonald’s joins companies like Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Elevation Burger, Shake Shack and many others that have made strong commitments to help save antibiotics. 

 However, McDonald’s did not set a timeline for serving beef and pork raised without the routine use of antibiotics. 

The fast food chain’s announcement comes as Oregon legislators are considering a bill, HB 2598, that would make Oregon the first state to curtail the overuse of antibiotics on farm animals (bill language and fact sheet). The legislation is sponsored by Reps. Peter Buckley and Mitch Greenlick, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, and supported by organizations including the Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon Pediatric Society, Friends of Family Farmers and Consumers Union.

 “With more than 23,000 Americans dying each year from antibiotic resistant infections, more must be done to stop the overuse of antibiotics in all meats,” said Rosenfeld. “We’re thrilled with the McDonalds’ announcement today, but we don’t want them to chicken out when it comes to setting a policy for beef and pork. And with the market growing for meat raised without the overuse of antibiotics, Oregon lawmakers should seize the moment and establish Oregon as a market leader.”

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