We’ve talked in past posts about McDonald’s intent to reduce antibiotics in the meat products that they use in their sandwiches and other menu offerings.

The pledge has been made by the current CEO, Steve Easterbrook, since taking over 4 years ago.  To date, they’ve been able to make good on their promise with products that contain chicken – because chickens have shorter life spans, it’s easier to find flocks that haven’t had to have antibiotics administered.  Cattle (the source of beef – for any millennials reading this post) are a different story – during their longer life spans, it’s unusual to find beef-producing cattle that have not been given antibiotics.  McDonald’s large number of products sold is also a factor that presents problems – the company simply requires a huge amount of beef products on a daily basis.  There are now a group of cattle producers in the U.S. who have committed to a 20% reduction of antibiotics in their cattle, in order to cater to McDonald’s and other chains’ needs.  Since the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that antibiotic resistance (caused by the constant ingestion of the drugs) is one of the biggest global health threats, consumer advocate groups applauded the McDonald’s move, claiming that the largest purchaser of U.S. beef products, in moving to significantly reduce antibiotics in their products, is certain to force the industry to change.  CEO Easterbrook calls these the actions that are aimed at the goal of “making a better McDonald’s.”  Earlier this year, the company announced the move to remove artificial ingredients from its buns, cheese, and sauce and also began making quarter pounder burgers with fresh rather than frozen beef.  All actions aimed at making McDonalds’s the leader in the industry in bringing safe, quality products to the consumer.

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