McDonald's Is Not Clowning Around With Superbugs

Fast food giant McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) has joined a growing list of global corporate, government and non-profit organizations to combat antibiotic resistance, setting a potential precedent for its rivals to follow.

McDonald’s has become the latest firm, and to date the sole fast food company, to participate in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge, which launched September 2018.

The Chicago-headquartered food chain is listed alongside a host of names, including Walmart, Aetna, CVS Health, Merck, Roche, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense, among several others.

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AMR has apparently become an increasingly challenging fight for preventing and treating infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that AMR occurs when microorganisms change following exposure to antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and antimalarials. Microorganisms that develop AMR are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.

As a result, medicine becomes ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of contagion.

According to the CDC, at least two million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the U.S. annually, and at least 23,000 people die as a result.

McDonald’s long-term plan

Against this backdrop, McDonald’s said Tuesday it has formed partnerships with its supplying beef producers in its top 10 sourcing markets, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the U.S., to conduct antibiotic analyses across its food chain.

McDonald’s aims to establish reduction targets for “medically important antibiotics” for these markets by the end of 2020 and will start reporting progress beginning 2022.

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