Sustainability

McDonald's Takes a Cue From Chipotle With Latest Menu Change

McDonald's Takes a Cue From Chipotle With Latest Menu Change
Image credit: Sebastian R. | Flickr

Looks like McDonald's is finally trying to make some healthy changes.

The fast-food chain announced today that it would begin only sourcing chicken raised with minimal antibiotics and milk from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormone rbST.

The new antibiotics policy supports the company's new 'Global Vision for Antimicorbial Stewardship in Food Animals,' which attempts to encourage ethical practices to ensure that antibiotics will remain medically effective in the future. The policy is rooted in is widespread concern that farmers' use of antibiotics on healthy animals to force weight gain is contributing to the growing level of drug-resistant bacteria.

Farms that provide chickens served at McDonald's will have to implement the new antibiotics policy within the next two years. With the new standard, McDonald's is focusing on antibiotics important to human medicine, meaning that farmers will still be allowed to use ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used for humans. If chicken are treated with other forms of antibiotics, they will not be served at McDonald's.

Related: Chipotle CEO: McDonald's Chicken Farm the 'Most Disgusting Thing'

"McDonald's believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care and our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed antibiotics, and then they will no longer be included in our food supply," Marion Gross, senior vice president of McDonald's North America supply chain, said in a statement.

McDonald's is also cracking down on artificial growth hormone rbST. Milk jugs, popular in Happy Meals, will offer milk from cows that are not treated with rbST. McDonald's maintains there is no difference between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows, but are making the change because it is "something that is important to our customers," according to Gross.

Antibiotics-free offerings are the norm at fast-casuals like Bareburger, Smashburger and Chipotle, but have recently become a hot topic for fast-food chains. Last year, Chick-fil-A announced that the company planned to switch to chickens raised without antibiotics nationwide within the next five years. In December, Carl's Jr. became the first fast food chain to debut a burger made with beef from cows raised with no antibiotics, steroids or added hormones.

The new antibiotics policy comes during McDonald's new CEO Steve Easterbrook's first week on the job, though it has been in the works since last year. Under Easterbrook's leadership, the company has promised to evolve the menu to "better meet the changing preferences and expectations of today's customers." That means rolling out the customizable burger platform "Create Your Taste" and promising to retool recipes to utilize higher-quality and localized ingredients.  

"We will continue to look at our food and menu to deliver the kind of great tasting and quality choices that our customers trust and enjoy," McDonald's U.S. president Mike Andres said in a statement.

Related: Unions, Charity Accuse McDonald's of Avoiding $1.1 Billion in Tax

Edition: December 2016

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