End antibiotics use, charity tells McDonald’s

15 August 2016

A responsible investment charity has organised an online petition to McDonald’s Corporation CEO Steve Easterbrook urging him to stop the routine use of antibiotics in the company’s global livestock supply chains.

UK-based ShareAction is worried continued use of antibiotics in the livestock supply chain could lead to drug-resistant infections and could cost the world around $100tn in lost output by 2050.

Around 70% of all antibiotics used in the US and half of those used in the UK are given to livestock.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) described antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health today.

It said misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process and meant infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.

McDonald’s had previously promised to cut back antibiotic over-use in American and European poultry supply chains – but has yet to tackle use in beef, pork or dairy supply chains.

In April, investors with over $1tn in assets under management wrote to 10 US and UK companies, including McDonald’s, urging that they end the routine use of antibiotics in global meat and poultry supply chains.

ShareAction said 22% of McDonalds shareholders had recently voted in favour of a shareholder proposal calling for an end to the routine use of medically important antibiotics in the supply chain.

So far the company has failed to provide a meaningful response to that suggestion.

Catherine Howarth, chief executive at ShareAction said: “Investors are right to express their concern directly to the board of McDonald’s, and now as individuals we can too, using this new web tool.

“Improved animal welfare practices are a far more sensible way to prevent disease than antibiotic overuse. We hope this action will encourage McDonald’s to supersize their ambition – now is the time for action.”

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