After years of protesters hounding their corporate headquarters’ doors, the fast-food chain, McDonald’s, has announced a new policy instructing its direct meat suppliers to refrain from using antibiotics in its livestock feed for the purpose of speeding up its growth. The policy change is a good move on the restaurant chain’s part considering that the antibiotics transfer to humans when they ingest the meat.
As a result, humans who eat the meat can develop a resistance to medical antibiotics, due to continual ingestion of the antibiotics in the food.
Thursday, McDonald’s representatives news, ending a trend that started in the early 1950’s. The direct suppliers are notorious for this practice and are responsible for a majority of the fast-food company’s meat, and roughly 20 percent of its poultry. The policy targets 24 antibiotics such as fluoroquinolone, which have been heavily used to make livestock grow larger and faster. European fast-food chains already implemented such a ban in 1998, and have since seen a decline in antibiotic resistance in humans.
Activists groups, including Food Animal Concerns Trust and Keep Antibiotics Working, have striven to make this practice known to the public, fearing it would cause immunity to antibiotics in humans. When the animals are fed the various antibiotics, bacteria develop a resistance to the antibiotics. These strains are then transferred to humans, making the consumers equally resistant to the antibiotic. Penicillin and tetracycline are two antibiotics that have been rendered less effective over the years due to their overuse in livestock feed.
This is also why the Center for Disease Control has the standing policy of only giving out antibiotics when it is proven necessary. When a white substance was found at The Oracle in October, 2001, the request by staffers to receive Cipro, an antibiotic known to counteract the effects of anthrax, were denied because of this policy. The drug was withheld because of the fear of building up immunity to it and hampering the future use of the drug for medical purposes.
The change of policy at the McDonald’s corporation is significant because of its status as the No. 1 fast food chain worldwide. Their implementation of this policy will hopefully lead to other fast-food chains following suit, a trend that will ensure safety and health for consumers.