McDonald’s is Cutting Antibiotics Out of its Chicken Supply
Steve Easterbrook took over the role of McDonald’s new CEO on March 1, and already big changes are happening—and they’re certainly welcome changes. As part of a new “Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals” action plan rolled out this week, today McDonald’s announced that it will be working to source and serve only chicken raised without antibiotics in its US locations moving forward.
“Our customers want food that they feel great about eating—all the way from the farm to the restaurant—and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations,” said McDonald's US President Mike Andres in an official statement regarding the changes. In this statement, McDonald’s acknowledges that this new antibiotic policy will be implemented across all 14,000-plus domestic McDonald’s locations within the next two years.
"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," adds Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald's North America Supply Chain, addressing likely questions about how ill chickens would be handled in the future.
The use of antibiotics among livestock has been a hot button issue for years now, and taking this stand is a bold step forward for McDonald’s. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a statement praising the decision and the impact it could have on keeping antibiotics effective.
“This is a landmark announcement in the fight to keep life-saving antibiotics working for us and our children,” says Jonathan Kaplan, director of NRDC’s Food and Agriculture program, in a statement regarding the decision. “The country’s largest fast food chain has committed to working with their suppliers to keep these drugs out of the barns used to raise the chickens for their nuggets, salads and sandwiches. In doing so, they are setting the bar for the entire fast food industry. If these are verifiable, given this company’s massive purchasing power and iconic brand, we may be at a tipping point for better antibiotic stewardship in the poultry industry.”
Even so, Kaplan also notes that McDonald’s still has plenty of room to improve—from including pork and beef in its new policy to expanding it further as a global policy.
“Hopefully, chicken is just the start – the Big Mac and McRib may be next,” he adds. “McDonald’s ‘Global Vision’ statement acknowledges the need to curb antibiotics use across their pork and beef supply chains too. Unfortunately, the statement does not include a ban on the use of all medically-important antibiotics in routine disease prevention, a practice known to contribute to antibiotic resistance. We urge McDonald’s to close this loophole in their ‘Global Vision’ statement, and to apply their new U.S. chicken antibiotics curbs to all their restaurants globally.”
But there will always be room for improvement. In the meantime, it’s quite a first week on the job for Easterbrook already. We can’t wait to see what the next weeks will look like.
Tyson Foods 2050 net-zero target with no bargain on taste
Tyson Foods, a leading global protein company, aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its global operations and supply chain by 2050.
The company supplies 20% of the USA’s beef, pork and chicken and is best known for products such as Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and BallPark.
As the first U.S.-based protein company to have an emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), this ambition, in conjunction with the release of the company’s fiscal year 2020 Sustainability Progress Report, underscores the company’s commitment to help combat the urgency of the growing climate change crisis.
Food giant Tyson will meet net-zero targets
The high level of meat and diary that humans consume is fuelling climate change for many reasons:
- Gassy cows, sheep and goats are responsible for up to 14% of all greenhouse emissions.
- 75% of agricultural land across the world is used for animal agriculture. This includes land for the animals to graze upon, as well as the land used for the crops which animals eat to grow in. The amount of land required leads to deforestation.
The move to net-zero is an expansion of Tyson Foods current science-based target of achieving a 30% GHG emissions reduction by 2030, which is aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 2.0c.
As a global organisation with 239 facilities and 139,000 employees worldwide, achieving net-zero emissions is a large task, which will require a collective effort from every team member, in addition to external stakeholders.
Tyson Foods’ goals include:
- For emissions to align with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5℃, consistent with the Paris Agreement, by the end of 2023.
- Expanding the company’s current 5m acre grazing lands target for sustainable beef production practices by 2025.
- Continuing work to eliminate deforestation risk throughout its global supply chain by 2030.
Tyson foods supports accountability and transparency
“We believe what good food can do for people and the planet is powerful. Our net-zero ambition is another important step in our work toward realising our aspiration to become the most transparent and sustainable food company in the world,” said Donnie King, Tyson Foods President and CEO.
“At Tyson Foods, we believe progress requires accountability and transparency and we are proud to exemplify that as we work to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” said John R. Tyson, Chief Sustainability Officer, Tyson Foods. “As the first U.S.-based protein company in the food and beverage sector to have an emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, we hope to continue to push the industry as a leader and remain committed to making a positive impact on our planet, with our team members, consumers and customers, and in the communities we serve.”
Tyson Foods’ new ambition, along with the company’s existing sustainability goals, is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include:
Goal 2: ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.
Goal 15: ‘Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.’