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19/01/62 . author unknown . Yahoo! News . USA  
McDonald's nixes growth-promoting antibiotics in its food chain  

McSpotlight note: The following article demonstrates that concerns continue to grow over modern techiques used in the controversial mass production of meat. The cruel conditions for animals being reared and slaughtered for profit is matched by the health risks to those who consume the products. These major concerns of critics and campaigners, brought up in the McLibel trial in the 1990s, are forcing the companies involved onto the defensive.

It should be further noted that, despite the impression given to the contrary in the article, the systematic and irresponsible use of antibiotics to compensate for the unnatural, cramped and unhealthy conditions will continue. Except it will be 'justified' as 'concern' for the animal welfare. Bob Langert, McDonald's Corporation 'Director of Social Responsibility' (and a witness during the McLibel trial), is quoted in the article: 'Suppliers will still be able to use antibiotics for therapeutic purposes and disease prevention'.

OAK BROOK, Illinois (AFP) - McDonald's said it has instructed its meat suppliers to phase out the use of growth-promoting antibiotics in animal husbandry in the service of the wider public health battle on antibiotic resistance in humans.

The Golden Arches said it has outlined a series of steps that global suppliers of chicken, beef, and pork will have to take to bring them in line with the standards set out in the company's new Global Policy on Antibiotics.

"We take seriously our obligation to understand the emerging science of antibiotic resistance, and to work with our suppliers to foster real, tangible changes in our own supply community, and hopefully beyond," said Frank Muschetto, McDonald's vice president of global supply chain management, in a statement.

The father of all fast-food chains buys 2.5 million pounds of meat a year globally and with that type of purchasing power, McDonald's can "help to reverse the trend of antibiotics overuse in animal agriculture," said Gwen Ruta, program director for Environmental Defense.

The chain consulted widely with scientists and environmental pressure groups, including Environmental Defense, in drawing up its new policy-making document.

It also drew on the experience of its European division that began phasing out the antibiotics during 2000. By the end of 2001, all of the chain's European-based poultry suppliers had eliminated growth-promoting antibiotics for use in chicken feed.

The fast-food retailer will be auditing its poultry suppliers to monitor their compliance with the new policy, said Bob Longest, McDonald's director of social responsibility.

Many chicken farmers work exclusively for McDonald's but, because the beef and pork supply chains are so much more diversified, the company is aiming to encourage compliance amongst those suppliers through a so-called "purchasing preference protocol."

Suppliers will still be able to use antibiotics for therapeutic purposes and disease prevention, according to Langert.

Scientists are concerned that the widespread use of these antibiotics in animals, alongside the well documented over prescription of the drugs by doctors, is contributing to rising human resistance to the drugs.

In particular, bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal systems of animals and develop an immunity to the drugs can sicken humans if they make it into the food chain in one form or another.

"There are salmonella strains resistant to six different classes of antibiotics," noted Becky Goldburg, senior scientist at New-York based Environmental Defense.

Salmonella, one of the best-known sources of food poisoning, can be fatal.  
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