McDonald’s helps curb antibiotic resistance threat with new beef policy – ABC Rural
Fast food giant McDonald’s says it will work with its top 10 beef producing markets to cut down on the amount of antibiotics used in its meat.
In a statement, McDonald’s said it will establish “reduction targets for medically important antibiotics for these markets” by 2020, having developed the policy over the past 18 months after consulting with a “cross-section of expert stakeholders”, including veterinarians, public health leaders and beef producers.
McDonald’s said it was a move that would help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human and animal health in the future.
Representatives from the Australian beef industry believe they are ahead of the game and welcome the transition.
The chair of Beef Sustainability Framework, Tess Herbert, said Australia was well equipped to take on this new policy, as much of the industry already engaged with alternative methods.
“One alternative method, depending on the illness, is to vaccinate cattle to reduce the use of these antibiotics.”
McDonald’s said in a statement that it needed to collect the relevant data to make this transition by the end of 2020.
“Locally, we will be partnering with Australian producers to gather information on current antibiotic usage,” the statement said.
Will Wilson, cattle board chair from Queensland’s Agforce, said the industry would be happy to respond to this policy, however, the animal’s welfare still must remain a priority.
“I hope when we come out the other side of this we can make a product that they desire and one that we can produce,” Mr Wilson said.
“We have to keep in mind that the welfare of the animal should be at the forefront of our minds.”
Low levels in Australian cattle
Earlier in 2018 Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) funded a set of guidelines to offer producers best practice of antimicrobial resistance management.
These guidelines referenced ongoing research from CSIRO that monitors the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the Australian beef cattle population.
Ian Jenson, microbiologist and MLA manager for food safety and technical access market research, is involved in this project that will be updated by the end of 2019.
“We aim to continue to monitor levels of antibiotic resistance levels in Australian cattle and we’re expecting the numbers will still be low.”
Dr Jenson said the ongoing research will look further at the problematic bacteria linked to infectious diseases in cattle.
“This research will give us a better idea about which antibiotics to use and how we can use them less.”
Causes of antibiotic resistance
Some of the causes of antibiotic resistance in people has been attributed to animal products that are processed with antibiotics.
The main contributing factor to the global threat of antimicrobial resistance is the human over-consumption of antibiotics.
“The mainstream idea is human consumption of antibiotics is the main cause of antimicrobial resistance in people,” Dr Jenson said.
Mr Wilson said he believes the kind of policy introduced by McDonald’s will help Australia’s premium image stand out amongst its competitors.