McDonald’s Canada Shifting to Chickens Raised Without Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine

Only a week after Subway’s (U.S.) announcement to shift towards animal protein raised without antibiotics, McDonald’s Canada has made its own announcement. The company is starting its transition to only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine.

McDonald's Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich.

McDonald’s Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich.

The change is part of the company’s “journey to evolve its menu to better meet the changing preferences and expectations of its guests” and follows its September announcement to source cage-free eggs.

“Our guests want food that they feel great about eating – all the way from the farm to the restaurant – and this move takes another step toward better delivering on those expectations,” said John Betts, president and CEO of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited, in a release.

“McDonald’s believes antibiotics have important benefits,” said Rob Dick, senior director of McDonald’s Canada supply chain, “but that a few sensible changes to our policy can both maintain their most important benefits while helping to reduce their use overall.”

Farmers working with McDonald’s Canada will still be allowed to use ionophores, which are not used in human medicine. The company will source only chicken raised without medically important antibiotics by the end of 2018.

Chicken Farmers of Canada said the move by McDonald’s is “consistent with the overall direction of the Canadian chicken industry.”

“Antimicrobial reduction continues to be a concern for farmers, consumers, and public health experts,” said CFC chair Dave Janzen in a statement on Monday. “While they are an important part of modern human and animal medicine, Chicken Farmers of Canada supports the responsible use of antimicrobials to maintain animal health, animal welfare, and food safety. Ultimately, the goal of the AMU strategy is to ensure the continued effectiveness of antibiotics while providing continued confidence to consumers.”

As of May 15, 2014, preventative use of Category I antibiotics — those considered most important to human health — is no longer permitted on Canadian chicken farms and hatcheries.

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