McDonald's Chickens Going Antibiotic-Free is a Big Deal

By Sarah Zhang on at

McDonald's has announced that it will begin only sourcing chickens that are raised without the use of medically important antibiotics. The operation is gradually sweeping across the US over the next two years, while McDonalds UK has also announced that they will follow suit and also announce plans to phase out the use of antibiotic-fed poultry. When a juggernaut like McDonald's makes such decisions, the food world listens — and sourcing only antibiotic-free chicken is a big deal.

For decades, poultry farmers have routinely used low doses of antibiotics to help chickens gain weight. The antibiotics are often the same ones used to treat infections in humans. This practice has since been linked to antibiotic resistance, which can spread from farms out into to the general population. Essentially, less antibiotics in our food means antibiotics that are more effective when we take them as an intended cure for illness.

As such a large, worldwide food-service buyer of chickens, McDonald's is in an unique position to affect our food supply. Historically, it's made potato farmers into billionaires, for instance. The control that fast food companies exert of our food supply has arguably made many things worse — this is one step toward making it better. [Wired]

Top image: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee