McDonald’s Corp. is placing demands on their chicken suppliers to stop using human antibiotics in raising poultry. The world’s largest fast food chain will also offer customers cow milk void of rBGH, the artificial growth hormone. According to experts, this is a huge public health move by McDonald’s.
Today, McDonald’s made an announcement that the company will only purchase “chicken raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine.”
The senior officer of Pew Charitable Trusts’ antibiotic resistance project, Gail Hansen offered the following comment.
“McDonald’s announcement is a big public health victory in the battle against antibiotic resistance.”
McDonald’s statement happens to come three days after Steve Easterbrook took over as the company’s chief executive. The Wall Street Journal reports Easterbrook views himself as an internal activist with plans to craft a “modern, progressive burger company.”
Mike Andres, U.S. president of McDonald’s, provided a comment about their major move to ABC News.
“Our customers want food that they feel great about eating, all the way from the farm to the restaurant, and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations.”
Plans for McDonald’s to phase out purchasing poultry containing human antibiotics will take a couple of years. They have already contacted Tyson Foods, Inc., one of their biggest chicken suppliers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Tyson is in total agreement with McDonald’s and plans to continue in their effort to supply chicken to meet the fast-food chain’s new requirements. In fact, since 2011, in raising their poultry, Tyson has already reduced the use of antibiotics used in medicine for humans by 84 percent.
Antibiotics are used in raising chickens in order to combat unhealthy conditions, increase the poultry’s growth rate, and improve their diets. However, a 2013 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites each year nearly two million Americans become infected with bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.
Every year, close to 23,000 people die because of the infections. Public health leaders place partial blame on the meat industry, since they use antibiotic drugs in raising beef and poultry.
According to Reuters, the McDonald’s change in poultry purchases will affect approximately 14,000 restaurants in the United States; it will not have an effect on the nearly 22,000 stores in other parts of the world.
McDonald’s new policy will begin at the poultry hatchery, because current practices in raising chickens involves injecting the shells of chicks with antibiotics.
[Featured image courtesy of Chris Hondros/Getty Images]