Investors Applaud McDonald's New Policy Restricting Suppliers' Use of Antibiotics

Mar 4th 2015

Decision to stop sourcing chicken raised with antibiotics vital to human medicine welcomed by investors advocating for more sustainable food production  

NEW YORK, NY, Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – McDonald’s USA today announced its decision to begin sourcing only chicken raised “without antibiotics that are important to human medicine”, making it the largest restaurant chain in the U.S. to adopt a policy of this kind.

Because over 70 percent of antibiotics used in human medicine are also used to treat food-producing animals, human antibiotic resistance has become a growing concern for public health. Each year, antibiotic-resistant infections cause over 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S.

Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) have been engaging companies in the food sector, including McDonald’s, on the risk of non-therapeutic antibiotic use since 2002.

ICCR members and shareholders of McDonald’s drafted a shareholder resolution addressing the company’s sourcing of meat treated with these antibiotics. The proposal, filed by the Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, the Sisters of St. Dominic of San Rafael, CA, and the Oneida Tribe of Indians Trust Fund For the Elderly called on the company to prohibit the use of antibiotics used in human medicine for purposes other than treatment of non-routine control of veterinarian-diagnosed illness. 

Said Sr. Susan Mika of the Congregation of Benedictine Sisters, “Shareholders welcome McDonald’s announcement as this sets the standard for the rest of the industry. McDonald’s decision is a good first step and demonstrates that McDonald's is listening to its stakeholders: its investors and even more importantly, its customers."

“We are happy to see McDonalds step up and fill the void left by the FDA’s failed policies and hope other restaurant chains will quickly follow suit and adopt new policies restricting the use of antibiotics in their supply chain,” said Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth. “While McDonald’s focus on poultry is a great step forward, we urge the company to adopt similar goals and timetables for reductions in antibiotic use in its other meat supply chains.” 

"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 press statement. 

The company also confirmed that its suppliers will be able to continue to treat ill animals with appropriate veterinary care, including prescribed antibiotics, but that those animals will no longer be included in the company’s food supply.

Mika added, “As long as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS) remain a part of meat production, antibiotic overuse will continue to pose a significant risk to public health. We will continue to engage the company and look forward to more progress on this and other sustainable agriculture issues."


About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR):

Currently celebrating its 44th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world.