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McDonald’s to curb antibiotic use in its beef supply

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MCDONALD’S Corp said on Tuesday it plans to reduce the use of antibiotics in its global beef supply, fueling projections that other restaurants will follow suit.

The move by the world’s biggest fast-food chain addresses concerns that the overuse of antibiotics vital to fighting human infections in farm animals may diminish the drugs’ effectiveness in people.

McDonald’s becomes the biggest beef buyer to tackle the issue in cattle, potentially creating a new standard for livestock producers and threatening sales by drug companies such as Merck & Co and Elanco Animal Health.

“McDonald’s iconic position and the fact that they’re the largest single global purchaser of beef make it hugely important,” said David Wallinga, a senior health adviser for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.

McDonald’s said it will measure the use of antibiotics in its 10 biggest markets, including the United States, and set targets to curb their use by the end of 2020. The markets cover 85 percent of the company’s global beef supply chain.

Under the McDonald’s policy, medically important antibiotics cannot be used to routinely prevent disease in food animals in the supply chain.

The company does not expect the policy to raise hamburger prices, although franchisees set their own menu prices, spokeswoman Lauren Altmin said.

Franchisees operate about 90 percent of McDonald’s restaurants. — Reuters