In response to growing concern over drug-resistant bacteria and the food supply chain, McDonald’s will begin phasing out sourcing chickens raised with antibiotics over the next two years. While the fast-food giant will only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine, the farmers who supply chicken for its menu will continue to use ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens healthy.
The new policy, which will be implemented at approximately 14,000 U.S. restaurants, is part of McDonald’s new Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals introduced this week that builds on the company’s 2003 global antibiotics policy and includes supplier guidance on the thoughtful use of antibiotics in all food animals.
“McDonald’s believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care and our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed antibiotics, and then they will no longer be included in our food supply," said Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald’s North America Supply Chain.
In another move to bolster its image, McDonald’s U.S. restaurants later this year will offer milk jugs of low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk from cows that are not treated with rbST, an artificial growth hormone. The milk jugs are popular choices in Happy Meals.
“While no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows, we understand this is something that is important to our customers," Gross said.
The actions are the latest steps in McDonald’s move to evolve its menu to better meet the changing preferences and expectations of today’s health-conscious customers. In 2013, McDonald’s began adapting its menus to offer healthy options, such as fruit and side salads, as a substitute for French fries in its popular value. The fast-food giant also made nutritional changes to its Happy Meals, as well as changes in the way in which it markets them to children.