Weekly Overview: McDonald's Urged to Phase Out Medically Important Antibiotics

ANALYSIS - This week, fast food company McDonald's has been targeted by an online campaign aiming to halt, what it describes as, the 'excessive use' of antibiotics in its global supply chain.
calendar icon 15 August 2016
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Charity ShareAction, which is working towards responsible investment practices worldwide, called on consumers to email McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook about antibiotics using their online form.

The charity said that whilst some progress has been made in McDonald's US poultry supply chain, "investors are increasingly worried about double standards between beef, pork and poultry".

In the UK, pig farmers are already looking at ways antibiotics can be used responsibly and their use monitored. One current method is the Electronic Medicine Book.

Whilst the problems with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are well known, it must be remembered however that the zero-use of antibiotics would have implications for the health and welfare of animals.

Responding to the news of the ShareAction campaign, the National Pig Association's (NPA) Senior Advisor, Dr Georgina Crayford, said: "This is an issue the industry takes incredibly seriously and, while these campaigns clearly serve those behind them, they simply are not needed when it comes to prompting action.

"What everybody needs to remember is the need to find balance between addressing the problem of AMR and ensuring the industry retains the ability to responsibly treat livestock to protect their health and welfare."

In disease news, new outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have been reported on pig farms in Russia, Poland and Ukraine.

Nine Polish, 82 Russian and 17 Ukrainian pigs were affected and over 4000 pigs died or were destroyed as a result of the outbreaks.

In Guatemala, the country has been able to finally declare itself free of classical swine fever following five years of successful prevention work.

The country can now resume negotiations with trading partners and resume exports of live pigs, products and by-products, mainly in Central America.

Also this week, a positive environmental Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) sample has been collected in Alberta, Canada. The finding has reinforced the need for continued diligence in guarding against the infection, said Bruce Cochrane in FarmScape.

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