Fast Food Giant McDonalds Reducing Antibiotics in Beef Within Four Years

Here at CFL we are always looking for the positive efforts Big Food is making for reducing chemicals of concern in the food supply. With that in mind, we are pleased to report that within the next two years, mega-fast-food-giant McDonald’s will begin the process of  “reducing” the amount of antibiotics in their beef menu items (where “reducing” is not the same thing as “eliminating”) so that by four years from now the beef offered on their menus will have some reduction in antibiotics. This means that by 2022– four years from now–McDonald’s beef will likely contain less antibiotics than it currently does.

CFL Graphic-Antibiotics in meat and dairy


The Chicago-based fast-food giant McDonald’s said it is partnering with beef producers in its top 10 beef-sourcing markets to measure current antibiotic use, and by the end of 2020 will establish reduction targets in those markets. The markets, which represent 85 percent of McDonald’s beef supply chain, will report progress starting in 2022.

CFL Graphic-nuns vs mcdonalds antibiotics

The policy will apply to beef producers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Brazil, Canada and the U.K.

CFL Graphic--antibiotics in fast food

While many fast-food companies have reduced antibiotic use in chicken, far fewer have done so for beef. U.S. PIRG and several other public interest groups co-authored a report in October 2018 that graded 25 burger chains on their antibiotic use practices…McDonald’s and most of its competitors got F’s.

CFL graphic-CDC on antibiotics in food


Seventy (70)  percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used in animal agriculture, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts…The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated, conservatively, that 23,000 Americans die each year from antibiotic resistance, but other research puts the number much higher.  A recent study from researchers at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis found 150,000 deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. in 2010.

CFL Graphic-Antibiotics in meat INCREASING

On the plus side: McDonald’s new policy forbids the use of antibiotics that are medically important to humans in promoting growth or preventing disease in animals. If there is a high risk of contraction of a particular disease, antibiotics must be selected according to a tiered system that starts with those of least importance to human health. Animals can still be treated when they’re sick.