McDonald's Corporation announced that in 2018, it will reduce the use of human antibiotics in its chicken to help address the growing concern about the consequences of overusing these drugs. The company said in a statement that it's also working on plans for the use of antibiotics in other meats, dairy cows, and hens.
McDonald's will require that their suppliers chicken start phasing out any antibiotics identified as "highest priority critically important antimicrobials" to human health by the World Health Organization. This isn't as aggressive a strategy as that employed by the company in the United States; for the past year, those chickens have had to be raised without the critical antibiotics.
McDonald's said that by January 2018, 74 percent of its global chicken sales would adhere to this policy. Environmental and consumer groups hope and expect that a similar plan for the beef supply is coming soon. McDonald's has not yet commented on those plans.
In the United States, 70 of antibiotics that are medically important to humans are being sold for use in livestock. Scientists have been warning about the rise of microbes that can become resistant to our important drugs through this kind of excessive use in places where it's not needed. Antibiotic-resistant infections are already killing over 23,000 Americans every year.