Resource

Leading consumer, health and food groups urge McDonald's to quickly reduce antibiotic use in beef supply chains

Last updated: 11/24/2021

Alliance for Humane Biotechnology | American Grassfed Association | Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, The George Washington University | Aspen Center for Environmental Studies | Benedictine Sisters | Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) | Beyond Pesticides | Breast Cancer Prevention Partners | CalPIRG Education Fund | Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) || Center for Biological Diversity | Center for Food Safety | Certified Naturally Grown | Clean Water Action (California) | CoPIRG Foundation | Consumer Reports | FAIRR Initiative | Family Farm Defenders | Farmworker Association of Florida | Farm Sanctuary | Food Animal Concerns Trust | Food Tank | Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic | Health Care Without Harm | Illinois Coalition for Clean Air & Water | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Kewaunee CARES Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship | Lymphoma Foundation of America | Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association | Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights | Maryland Public Health Association | Maryland Votes for Animals | MASSPIRG Education Fund | MRSA Survivors Network | National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association | Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society | Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance | Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York | NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) | Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association | OSPIRG Foundation | ReAct Africa | ReAct Europe, Uppsala University | ReAct Strategic Policy Program and Innovation+Design Enabling Access (IDEA) Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health | Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, UCLA Law | Roots of Change, A Program of the Public Health Institute | San Francisco Baykeeper | San Francisco Marin Medical Society | Sierra Club | Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia | Socially Responsible Agriculture Project | The Cornucopia Institute | The Food Voice, Inc. | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Western Nebraska Resources Council (WNRC) | World Animal Protection US 

 

 

 

November 24, 2021

Chris Kempczinski

McDonald’s Corporation, CEO

Dear Mr. Kempczinski,

We write to you as representatives of multiple organizations with millions of members to express our ongoing concerns about the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production. We ask that McDonald’s honor its December 2018 public commitment to eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics for routine prevention of disease in its beef supplies, and by the end of 2020, establish market-specific reduction targets for these antibiotics in its global beef and dairy beef supply chains. As far as we know, McDonald’s is now nearly a year late in meeting this pledge. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rise of bacteria resistant to antibiotics is one of our most pressing public health threats. Millions of Americans get sick each year from drug-resistant infections, and one study estimates that up to 160,000 die annually. Overusing antibiotics in any setting can spur resistance, but it’s critical we work to reduce use in the livestock sector, where nearly two-thirds of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. go each year. The common practice of using these life-saving medicines to prevent disease and compensate for overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions on industrial farms is of particular concern. 

McDonald’s has been a leader on this issue since 2015, when the company committed to and then shortly succeeded in purchasing only chicken raised without medically important antibiotics for its US market. That was a major step forward for public health. The company continued that leadership with its 2018 announcement to restrict use and set reduction targets for medically important antibiotics across 85 percent of its global beef supply chain by the end of 2020. This  policy also included a commitment to phase out routine use of medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease. These commitments rightly were based on the 2017 World Health Organization "Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals" as clearly indicated in the 2018 announcement. 

However, as far as we can determine, McDonald’s missed its 2020 deadline for setting reduction targets, and has not publicly reported any progress toward phasing out the routine use of the drugs. 

Our groups call on McDonald’s to fulfill its previous commitments and continue to lead on this issue by:

  • Following through on setting meaningful reduction targets for medically important antibiotics across 85 percent of your global beef supply chain. Aggressive reductions will be especially important for the U.S. market, where sales of medically important antibiotics for use on cattle continue to rise. 

  • Publicly reporting on progress regarding your commitment to prohibit routine use of medically important antibiotics for prevention of disease.

  • Adopting a third-party, independent auditor with expertise in antibiotics to verify antibiotics use practices amongst your suppliers to ensure public confidence in your progress. 


Increasingly, consumers are asking for meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics. According to a recent national poll, labels claiming that meat was raised without antibiotics were important to two-thirds of consumers surveyed. 

As a leader in the fast food sector and the beef production industry, McDonald’s is poised to lead the way in producing meat ethically and without the overuse of antibiotics. Fulfilling your commitment to reduce antibiotic use in beef will also set an important example for other fast food companies who have made similar commitments to do so, and help spark change. 

We appreciate your attention to this pressing issue.

Respectfully,

Lydia Palumbo, Antibiotics Campaign Associate

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Lena Brook, Director, Food Campaigns

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Laura Rogers, Deputy Director

Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, The George Washington University

Cameron Harsh, Programs Director 

World Animal Protection US

Julia Ranney, Research & Policy Associate 

Center for Food Safety 

Michael Hansen, Ph.D, Senior Scientist

Consumer Reports 

Steve Roach, Safe and Healthy Food Program Director

Food Animal Concerns Trust

Supporting Organizations

Jeanine Thomas, Founder, President 

MRSA Survivors Network


Melody Morell, Executive Director

The Cornucopia Institute


Ed Maltby, Executive Director

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance


Carrie Balkcom, Executive Director

American Grassfed Association


Belita Cowan, President

Lymphoma Foundation of America


Louisa Kasdon, CEO & Founder

The Food Voice, Inc.


Sherri Dugger, Executive Director 

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project


Rudy Arredondo, President/CEO/Founder

National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association


Anthony D. So, MD, MPA, Director

ReAct Strategic Policy Program and Innovation+Design Enabling Access (IDEA) Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 


Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Director

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association


Conrad Amenta, Executive Director

San Francisco Marin Medical Society


Katie Baildon, Policy Coordinator

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York

 

 

 

Nezahualcoyotl Xiuhtecutli, General Coordinator

Farmworker Association of Florida


Hannah Connor, Senior Attorney 

Center for Biological Diversity


Emma Sirois, National Director, Healthy Food in Health Care

Health Care Without Harm


Helle Aagaard, Acting Director

ReAct Europe, Uppsala University


Jay Feldman, Executive Director

Beyond Pesticides


Jane Winn, Executive Director

Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)


John E. Peck, Executive Director

Family Farm Defenders


M. L. Tina Stevens, PhD, Director

Alliance for Humane Biotechnology


Alice Varon, Executive Director

Certified Naturally Grown


Christy Mahon, Development Director

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies


Buffalo Bruce, Staff Ecologist 

Western Nebraska Resources Council (WNRC)


Katherine Meyer, Clinic Director

Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic


Diana Winters, Deputy Director 

Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, UCLA Law


Mirfin Mpundu, Director

ReAct Africa


Nancy Utesch, Founder 

Kewaunee CARES Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship 


Wally Graeber, Program Coordinator 

Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society


Maria Lettini, Executive Director

FAIRR Initiative


Tom McCaney, Associate Director, CSR

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia


Sr. Susan Mika OSB, Director, Corporate Responsibility

Benedictine Sisters


Heather Spalding, Deputy Director

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association


Gene Baur, President and Co-founder

Farm Sanctuary


Danielle Nierenberg, President

Food Tank


Karen Hudson, Co-founder 

Illinois Coalition for Clean Air & Water 


Lisa Radov, Chairman

Maryland Votes for Animals


Kenneth Jaffe, MD, Board Member

Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE)


Nina Beth Cardin, Director

Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights


Andria Ventura, Legislative and Policy Director

Clean Water Action (California)


Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Executive Director

San Francisco Baykeeper


Janet, Sr. Director of Program and Policy

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners 


Raimee Eck, Policy Chair

Maryland Public Health Association


Michael R. Dimock, Program Director 

Roots of Change, A Program of the Public Health Institute


Abe Scarr, Director 

Illinois PIRG Education Fund 

 

Charlie Fisher, Director 

OSPIRG Foundation 

 

Emily Scarr, Director 

Maryland PIRG Foundation 

 

Jenn Engstrom, Director 

CalPIRG Education Fund 

 

Janet Domenitz, Executive Director 

MASSPIRG Education Fund 

 

Danny Katz, Executive Director 

CoPIRG Foundation

 

Alexander Rony, Co-Chair, Food & Agriculture Grassroots Network Team

Sierra Club

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