LOS ANGELES — McDonald’s on Wednesday said that it would begin curbing the use of the high value human antibiotics in its global chicken supply in 2018, as the fast-food giant joins a broad effort to battle dangerous superbugs.
McDonald’s, in a policy statement, said it is working on antibiotic plans for other meats, dairy cows and laying hens.
McDonald’s is requiring suppliers of chicken meat to begin phasing out the use of antibiotics defined by the World Health Organization as “highest priority critically important antimicrobials” — HPCIA — to human medicine.
Public health and consumer groups applauded the move, which is not as strict as the company’s policy for the United States, where already for a year suppliers have provided the chain with chickens raised without antibiotics deemed important to human health.
In January 2018, HPCIAs will be gone from McDonald’s chickens in Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Europe. Only in Europe the company will make an exception for Colistin, a last-resort antibiotic.
By the end of 2019, suppliers in Australia and Russia will stop using HPCIAs and European suppliers plan to remove Colistin.
Suppliers in all other markets will comply by January 2027.
“Our goal is to have this policy implemented before this date,” McDonald’s said in its posted antibiotic policy update.