McDonald’s to ‘evaluate’ antibiotic use in Canadian chicken

The Canadian arm of fast-food giant McDonald’s isn’t yet moving to follow its U.S. counterpart’s plans to phase out use of certain antibiotics on chickens in its supply chain.

The U.S. chain announced Wednesday it would move, over the next two years, to only purchase chicken “raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine.”

The new policy, when fully implemented, is expected to prevent McDonald’s U.S. chicken suppliers from delivering birds treated with fifth-or-newer-generation cephalosporins, third-or-newer-generation tetracyclines, lipopeptides, oxazolidinones, glycopeptides, carbapenems and/or antivirals.

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The U.S. policy would not prevent the chain’s supplier farmers from using ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used in human health care.

McDonald’s Canada, in a statement Wednesday, said it “recognizes the leadership of our U.S. colleagues but has made no decision at this time to change our current approach with chicken.”

The Canadian chain said it “will continue to be engaged with our suppliers, subject matter experts, regulators and industry on plans for addressing” the global company’s goals.

But the Canadian chain said it would also have to evaluate the “implications” of such a move in Canada, given that Canada’s sourcing practices and supply-managed supply chain “are different to those in the U.S.”

The Canadian office said it “will actively work with all our key stakeholders to identify the best path forward, while continuing to follow Health Canada regulations and working within the Canadian supply management system.”


That said, Chicken Farmers of Canada already has a policy in place halting preventive use of “Category I” antibiotics — those considered to be of the “highest importance” in treating serious infections in people — as of May 15 last year.

According to CFC, Category I antibiotics, such as cephalosporins, were until last May used at times at the hatchery level to help prevent E. coli infections and first-week mortality in chicks.

CFC’s policy affects the pre-emptive use of products such as Excenel and Baytril but does not impact therapeutic use of Category I drugs for disease treatment.

The policy is a “mandatory” element of CFC’s On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program and is enforced in all 10 provinces.

Marion Gross, McDonald’s senior vice-president for its North American supply chain, said in the company’s U.S. release that it “believes that any animals that become ill deserve appropriate veterinary care and our suppliers will continue to treat poultry with prescribed antibiotics.”

But treated birds, Gross said, would “no longer be included in our food supply.” — Network


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