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Activists ask McDonald’s to go antibiotic free in pork, beef

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The consumer and public health advocacy organization U.S. PIRG Education Fund wants McDonald’s to commit to a concrete timeline to phase out antibiotics in its beef and pork supply chains. The activists say “they are singling out the iconic fast food company because McDonald’s has an outsized influence as the biggest purchaser of beef in the United States, and it has a vague long-term antibiotics plan.”

“Protecting antibiotics requires action, not reaction. If we don’t act now to preserve the effectiveness of these medicines, we’ll face a world in which common infections once again kill,” said Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director, U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “The Big Mac can make a big dent in stopping the misuse of antibiotics in our food system.”

As part of their national campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has started a petition urging McDonald’s to take action on its beef and pork supply chains. The organization says they have nearly 10,000 signatures already. The group’s state affiliates also held events in front of McDonald’s franchises across the country to “educate people about the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the important role McDonald’s can play.”

McDonald’s stopped serving chicken raised with medically important antibiotics in 2016. Fourteen of the top 25 restaurant chains in the U.S. have committed to no longer source chicken raised with routine antibiotics, according to the annual Chain Reaction report.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2016 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals released in December shows that overall usage of antibiotics in livestock is the lowest since 2009.

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