Chicken McNuggets might not be part of your diet, but a new announcement from McDonald’s could have an impact on your health.
According to a statement issued Wednesday, the roughly 14,000 farms that supply chicken to U.S. locations of the fast food restaurant have a two-year window to stop the use of antibiotics that are important to human health. Chickens treated with a type of antibiotic not used on humans, ionophores, will continue to be allowed.
The company said the change, which follows similar moves by companies like Panera Bread and Chipotle, was an effort “to better meet the changing preferences and expectations of today’s customers.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have warned of an alarming rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbugs”—a problem fueled by livestock farms, where up to 80 percent of all antibiotics are used.
Given that link, Jonathan Kaplan, director of NRDC’s Food and Agriculture program, called the news “a landmark announcement in the fight to keep life-saving antibiotics working for us and our children.” Because of the “company’s massive purchasing power and iconic brand, we may be at a tipping point for better antibiotic stewardship in the poultry industry,” he added.
Kaplan further explained that it’s “good news for McDonald’s customers and anyone else who might someday need an effective antibiotic.”
Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth, echoed that sentiment, stating, “We also hope this plan will convince the livestock industry to stop its misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture; which has been a key contributor to antibiotic resistance.”
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