McDonald's Has A New Antibiotics Policy — And Its Impact Could Change The World

mbg Health Contributor By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”
McDonald's Has A New Antibiotics Policy — And Its Impact Could Change The World

Image by Justin Sullivan / Getty

We all know that antibiotic use in meat is bad news for our health. This extremely common practice—which is meant to reduce disease and promote growth in the animals—contributes to microbial resistance, which can make the antibiotics prescribed to us humans by our doctors way less effective. It's a pretty scary reality, but today there's good news in the world of microbial resistance! McDonald's Corp just announced that it's making big moves to reduce its beef suppliers' use of medically important antibiotics.

So what's the plan, specifically? For one, the company is going to start measuring how much their top 10 beef suppliers are using antibiotics in the first place. Then they will set new standards in 2020 that will reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in their beef. And finally, by 2022, suppliers will have to report their progress in meeting those standards.

In a blog post released by the company announcing the new policy, they wrote, "Today, the company took a big step forward that we hope will spark a similar wave of change in the beef industry."

The classic American restaurant chain has been making positive changes to its menu since Steve Easterbrook became the CEO of the company in 2015. For example, they're now using real butter over margarine (a processed butter substitute that contains hydrogenated oils,) they have already removed antibiotic-laden chicken from their menu, and they're using fresh meat instead of frozen meat for Quarter Pounders.

So while this change to their antibiotics policy is one of many similar policies, it's still a huge deal that will affect 85 percent of its supply chain. There are about 37,000 McDonald's worldwide, which means that purchasing changes that come along with this announcement won't just change the contents of our Big Macs; they'll change the beef industry as a whole.

In fact, it could affect the beef industry even more than their decision to nix antibiotics from their restaurants changed the chicken industry. "This announcement is quite significant because the beef industry—in contrast to chicken—has taken very little action to address antibiotic overuse to date. That's despite the fact that more medically important antibiotics are sold for use on cows than people. And 43 percent of medically important antibiotics sold to the U.S. livestock sector go to the beef industry—compared to only 6 percent for chicken," they explained.

I don't know about you, but here at mbg, we're looking forward to a future of fewer antibiotics in our food and water, so when we really need these miracle drugs to fight bacterial infections, they can really do their job.

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