McDonald’s feeling the heat to drop antibiotics

mcdonalds antibiotics

For a long time, McDonald’s and other fast-food franchise brands have been unwilling and unenthusiastic participants in the ongoing debate over healthier food options. Especially for kids.

It’s not really that Mickey D’s wants kids to eat unhealthy. It’s simply that the business model is not based on freshly made and prepared foods. It’s about decent quality meals at a reasonable price served fast and consistently across all locations. The latter concerns, fast and consistent are the biggest keys to the success of the franchise. That’s the model, and there is a long chain of events that leads to the cashier putting that wrapped burger in the brown paper bag.

McDonald’s is also one of the largest single buyers of meat, bread and product in the country. They need a lot, they need it consistently and they can’t have missed opportunities, because the line is always around the building. That led to successive innovations in food production, which led to scientific advances in feed and additives. And, in the age of the internet, it has resulted in an angry mob demanding McDonald’s stop using products from animals treated with antibiotics.

But while the mob is angry, they may not be out of their minds. Leading the charge is research by a cadre of scientists who are warning that treating livestock with antibiotics is creating new strains of super viruses that are resistant to any known drugs. We are, some predict, conceding our own doom by trying to avoid getting sick.

In response to both the public outcry and the advanced science, McDonald’s has agreed to stop using antibiotics in poultry in the United States. But, say petitioners, that’s not enough. They want the company to stop using beef, pork, and dairy from animals treated with antibiotics too…and they want a total commitment in all 30,000 McDonald’s locations.

And the science? According to the Associated Press, experts say routine use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent illness in farm animals has led to the death of at least 23,000 Americans every year, due to the emergence of superbugs.

Those sorts of factoids being tossed around in the media tend to unite and enrage an already suspicious consumer public. They don’t want to give up their Big Macs and fries, but they also don’t want some super flu turning the world into a Stephen King novel.

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Filed under Branding, News and Views, Public Relations

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