It will only source chickens that haven’t been treated with antibiotics important to human medicine

McDonald’s has committed to eliminate the use of antibiotics deemed important to human health in its global chicken supply by 2027. 

The fast food chain has announced it will only source broiler chickens that have not been treated with antibiotics important to human medicine, defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘highest priority critically important’, in ten years’ time.

The policy, which has already been implemented in the US, will be in force in Europe, Brazil, Canada, Japan and South Korea by January 2018, with the exception of colistin in Europe which will be removed by the end of 2019. Russia and Australia will follow at the end of 2019, and all other markets by 2027.

McDonald’s also plans to develop species-specific policies and timelines for its beef, dairy cows, pork and laying hens as part of its updated policy.

“For many years we have been working closely with our suppliers to monitor and reduce the use of antibiotics in our supply chain,” said a McDonald’s UK spokeswoman.

“Like all UK retailers we adhere to wider industry guidelines on antibiotic use in our supply chain to ensure animal welfare is of the highest standard. We will continue our work with suppliers and industry experts on this issue.”

Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology at Friends of the Earth, said the commitment was an “important step” by McDonald’s, however the policy fell short of eliminating all medically important antibiotics.

“The company’s statement today sends a powerful signal to large meat and poultry producers that they must act swiftly to reform their practices or lose potential large buyers like McDonald’s,” said Hamerschlag.

“We look forward to seeing concrete policies and timelines in the near future regarding its pork and beef supply. The devil is always in the details and we hope that McDonald’s new policy for beef will completely eliminate the use of all medically important antibiotics for anything other than the treatment of sick animals.”