High vote at McDonald's annual meeting underscores need to curb antibiotics use

May 24th 2017

Strong vote on antibiotics proposal at annual meeting signals investor appetite for extending current poultry policies to beef and pork. 

NEW YORK, NY WEDNESDAY, MAY 24TH, 2017 - McDonald’s shareholders and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility who have been engaging the company around its routine use of medically important antibiotics in meat production, were encouraged by another strong vote in favor of their resolution at today’s annual meeting. 

The resolution requesting that McDonald’s “Adopt a Policy to Ban the Non-Therapeutic Use of Antibiotics in Meat Supply Chain” received 29.7% of the vote, an even stronger result than last year, which proponents are citing as a clear call to action that McDonald’s can no longer ignore. This preliminary result is expected to be even higher when final numbers are released. 

“Once again, we are seeing that this is a significant issue for global investors who want to see our company address the public and worker health risks arising from the overuse of antibiotics in the meat we consume,” said Sr. Susan Mika of the Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, TX, lead filer of the proposal. “After today’s affirmation by nearly one third of shareholders, we hope management will recognize the need to show leadership by setting targets for more sustainable antibiotics use in beef and pork.” 

While McDonald’s has adopted a policy to source poultry with limited antibiotic treatment, the resolution asked the company to set global sourcing targets with timelines for pork and beef. The shareholders referred to scientific consensus that the over-use and misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry is contributing to the rise of antibiotics-resistance, a phenomenon that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine. This serious public health issue is projected to kill more people than cancer worldwide by 2050.

Shareholders also cite continued antibiotics overuse in spite of strong consumer preference for the more sustainable alternatives that are increasingly being offered the company’s peers as a competitive risk. A number of restaurant chains are moving to source limited antibiotic-treated beef and pork, including Subway, Wendy’s and Panera.

Said Austin Wilson, of As You Sow who co-filed the resolution, “Management has often cited its lack of influence in the beef and pork supply chains as reason for not including these meats in its antibiotics policy, but McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef in the U.S., and co-founded the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. McDonald’s has the ability and the incentive to be a leader on this issue. Today’s vote shows that investors want management to be bold.”

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 46th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $200 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability. www.iccr.org