Fast food chain McDonald’s will phase out all use of antibiotics critically important to human health, and in the US will only sell poultry raised “antibiotics-free”.
The restaurant said that, in the US, it would not source any poultry for its supply chain that had been administered antibiotics.
But ionophores, a class of antimicrobial used in coccidiostats, will continue to be permitted.
Marion Gross, a senior vice-president at McDonald’s, said: “McDonald’s believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care.
“Our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed antibiotics, and then they will no longer be included in our food supply.”
The changes will be phased in over the next two years.
In the UK, farm animals fed antibiotics must undergo a withdrawal period before they can be slaughtered.
Globally, the restaurant chain has launched a new strategy aimed at reducing the use of antibiotics classed as “critically important” to human health.
Medically important antimicrobials will no longer be used as growth promoters, and “dual use” drugs will only be administered as part of a “veterinary-developed animal healthcare programme”.
A McDonald’s UK spokesperson said: “In line with other retailers and the UK poultry industry, McDonald’s UK and Europe continue to work closely with our suppliers to monitor and reduce the use of antibiotics among chickens in our supply chain.
She added that McDonald’s Europe would “phase out the use of those antibiotics that play a crucial role in the human treatment of specific and serious infections and diseases, from our poultry supply chain”.
The company sources chicken for its UK business from British, European, Thailand and Brazil.