McD’s future includes antibiotic free chicken

Discussion
Mar 05, 2015

McDonald’s announced yesterday that it would end the sale of chicken treated with human antibiotics at its restaurants in the U.S. within the next two years.

The move, which follows other restaurant chains, addresses the consumer demand for more natural foods as well as the medical community’s concerns that the overuse of these drugs has lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant "super bugs."

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), McDonald’s "market power alone could be enough to force the unnecessary use of antibiotics out of chicken farming." Roughly 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to farm animals, according to an article on the website of On Earth, the magazine of the NRDC.

The fast food giant said it would continue to treat chickens with ionophores, an antibiotic not used in humans.

"If fewer chickens get sick, then fewer chickens need to be treated with antibiotics that are important in human medicine," said Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain, in a statement. "We believe this is an essential balance."

Tom Super, a spokesperson for the National Chicken Council, told Nation’s Restaurant News that producers have been taking steps to end the use of human antibiotics in their flocks. Both Tyson and Perdue discontinued the practice last year.

In addition to its decision to phase out the use of human antibiotics in chicken, McDonald’s also announced that later this year it would begin offering low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk from cows not treated with rBST, an artificial growth hormone that increases milk production.

"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," said McDonald’s U.S President Mike Andres, in a statement.

How will McDonald’s decision to phase out the sale of chickens treated with human antibiotics affect the poultry industry? How will this decision along with its move to sell milk that does not contain the artificial growth hormone rBST affect McDonald’s business going forward?

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8 Comments on "McD’s future includes antibiotic free chicken"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

When McDonald’s makes a decision, it reverberates throughout suppliers, since the company has tremendous clout. The decisions to phase out the sale of chickens treated with human antibiotics and milk treated with rBST are positive for the consumers and the company. The questions are why did the company wait so long, and how is this going to affect sales until the phase outs are in effect?

Gordon Arnold
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Today’s 21st century consumer is looking for economical and organic food products from the fast food industry. The apparent substitution of one drug for another is not going to be seen as a migration from force-fed to organic by most consumers and therefore is a poor decision or disclosure for what the market expects to see changed. Safe low cost meals with quality content is where they need to go. Reducing overhead and revamping their supply chain is how and where to get it done.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Forgive me for being a bit flip, but why did this take so long?

Years ago McDonald’s could have been a leader with natural/healthy products.

Anne Howe
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Why does it have to take two years to phase out bad chicken? Announcing this now means that customers who really want better chicken are going to be frustrated for two years, with many of them now on the hunt for better chicken. By the time the company implements the change, the chicken customers will be long gone and potentially gone for good.

Ian Percy
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

I hope the impact will be huge and in the right direction. Saying it’s about time may be the mother of all understatements. Ditto on Gene’s comment. Now if they’ll take the chemicals out of their buns, regulate where they get their eggs and beef, stop tempting kids with sugar everything … we’ll have reason to celebrate!

Jack Pansegrau
Guest
Jack Pansegrau
7 years 3 months ago

Sorry if I’m a bit skeptical. If Tyson and Perdue have already announced they are scaling back, then where is McDonald’s purchasing their chicken anyway? Also, McDonald’s leaves wiggle room when it says they will still permit the use ionophores (some of which have been banned in Europe…). And there is no mention of the “post-hatchery” use of antibiotics or the use of antibiotics for actual therapeutic needs. So I’m wondering if this isn’t just a big PR move by Tyson, Perdue and McDonald’s? Call me cynical, but I believe there is still some more “devil” in the details….

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

A step in the right direction. But beef products are far more popular. Is this a smoke screen?

Marc Millstein
Guest
Marc Millstein
7 years 3 months ago

Good move for consumers and the industry. Harder to say what the impact will be for MCDonald’s. If it’s possible to do without ingredients that could be harmful, terrific. But it remains to be seen how chicken antibiotics vs human impact health, not to mention prices and also sales. Might be that sales see little or no change as a result of this decision.

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