July 20, 2018

McDonald’s Will Source Chicken Raised without Some Antibiotics

McDonald’s announced last week that they will only source chicken raised without some antibiotics that are important to human health. Center for Food Safety and Food & Water Watch are applauding this move, but they say that McDonald’s should now make similar commitments for their beef and pork supply chains.

Fast Food RestaurantPaige Tomaselli, Senior Staff Attorney at Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, “As the world’s largest fast food chain, McDonald’s has taken a significant step forward in reducing the overuse of antibiotics in the poultry industry and preserving antibiotic effectiveness for people.” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said, “we’re glad to hear McDonald’s realizes the public doesn’t want food from factory farms that overuse antibiotics. But voluntary measures are not enough. It’s past time for the FDA to force the meat industry to eliminate its use of harmful antibiotics through enforceable, non-voluntary regulation.”

The FDA issued guidance documents in 2013 asking drug manufacturers to remove label permissions for the use of some types antibiotic in farm animals; for instance, to promote weight gain. Those guidance documents are not enforceable by law and companies do not have to comply.

The use of antibiotics in farm animals helps bacteria develop resistance to those drugs. When the food produced from those animals contaminated with that antibiotic resistant bacteria is sold to people, and mistakes are made in handling and cooking, those bacteria can make people seriously ill. Resistance to antibiotics can make these bacterial illnesses more serious and much more difficult to treat.

Last year’s Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak, for instance, was caused by seven strains of Salmonella bacteria. Four of those strains were resistant to more than one antibiotic. As a result, the hospitalization rate for that outbreak was almost double the usual number for the typical outbreak from Salmonella infections.

Tomaselli also said, “overusing antibiotics to prevent disease in food animals means that those life saving drugs are not available for humans when we need them. It’s a shortsighted policy that privatizes short-term profits at the long-term expense of the health and safety of the human race.”

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