Polishing the Golden Arches: McDonald’s Puts Limits on Human Antibiotic Use in Its Chicken

March 17, 2015 | By | Comments (7)
France, Mc Donald's sign

Credit: Alain Le Bot/Getty

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, has agreed to phase out the use of chicken fed with human antibiotics over the next 2 years. This is big news, guys. McDonald’s is a powerhouse. They’re the biggest seller of chicken in the United States, meaning they’re one of the largest purchasers of chicken. So when McDonalds says no human antibiotics (they can still use animal antibiotics necessary for health reasons), they influence the entire chicken industry. This requires processors to change how their chickens are raised.

For 60 years, chicken suppliers like Tyson and Perdue have been adding human antibiotics to their animal food and water so that the animals will grow faster on smaller amounts of feed. Faster growth, bigger chickens, less feed. And the result? More chicken = more profits.

What do those antibiotics do to us? Nothing beneficial, that’s for sure. Unless you’re one of the ones reaping the profits. Which I am not.

Will McDonald's big change make you more likely to eat at the fast food chain? Tell us in the comments.

Will McDonald’s big change make you more likely to eat at the fast food chain? Tell us in the comments. Credit: Jupiterimages/Getty

Ok, you may say… I don’t eat at McDonalds. That’s fine, and this change may not exactly cause you to start, either. But it’s an important step in the corporate food chain. I’d like to think it means that the Golden Arches are actually starting to listen to both the consumer as well as the health industry.

So look at the big picture: Other food corporations like Costco Wholesale are immediately following suit. Costco sells 80 million rotisserie chickens a year. That’s 160 million chicken breasts. Whoa! KFC is getting big pressure, too. Burger King just dropped soft drinks off the kid’s menu (another issue entirely, but progress none the less). Insert clapping emoji here.

This change is good, but it still won’t make chicken the healthiest choice on the menu. The Grilled Chicken Clubhouse (grilled = healthy, right?) has 590 calories and 1560mg sodium. That’s more than the Big Mac, with 530 calories and 960mg. You’re better off with the the Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken for 320 calories and 740mg sodium.

The human-antibiotic-free chicken may be cleaner, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better nutritionally. It’s likely not going to get cheaper, either. I’m curious as to how this will affect the price of chicken on the menu. This decision by McDonald’s will certainly add to costs of production in the chicken industry – as much as 3% according to Reuters. Will McDonald’s pass some of that cost increase on to its customers, or keep prices at a competitive level? Time will tell.

Here’s the question though… Does it change your view of McDonalds? Will you be running out the door (in 2ish years…) to grab a 6-pack of chicken nuggets? Let us know what you think!

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  1. DaveKing (@DaveKin49439048)

    McChicken, you better not buy any meat from the super market either because ALL meat is pumped full of the same crap unless you buy from a local farmer or buy 100% organic meat.

    March 19, 2015 at 7:18 am
  2. Jamie

    i may actually get a salad there, in a couple yrs. I don’t do McDonalds at this time though. Usually opt for salads in a fast food emergency. Kudos to McDonalds for a move in the right direction! Thanks for taking a step forward and being a leader. I’m sure this will eventually help with sales.

    March 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm
  3. Sharon Lindhlm

    Kudos to McDonald’s for being an industry leader in making a positive change in making their menu a little healthier. As mentioned in the article, one powerhouse in the food industry making a healthier change can result in a snowball effect throughout the entire industry. No, this step is not nearly enough to make fast food healthy. But, it is another positive move in that direction. Who will be the next food industry giant to garner the public’s approval with another healthy change?

    March 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm
  4. Debbie

    I will not ever eat at McDonalds

    March 18, 2015 at 11:45 am
  5. MChicken

    I have stopped eating McDonald’s in any way shape or form. Fast food in general for that matter. McDonald’s food has been bad for many years and continues to get worse. In general, no one should have used any antibiotics in meat animals just because. Antibiotics should only be used as necessary, not as a prevention of illness. If you think I am going to applaud McDonald’s for taking it out, I’m not. When it shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    March 18, 2015 at 10:54 am
  6. kkhan

    Yay!!! Finally health of the public before profits. The use of antibiotics in food has created super bugs, a person can not be cured of simple infections. And an over growth of the youth that are hitting puberty way earlier than they should. I don’t know if it will make me choose McDonald’s over making my own nuggets, but I am happy they are making the change.

    March 18, 2015 at 10:01 am
  7. randamcpanda

    Baby steps. I know how they cook their chicken. Even changing to a different oil a few years ago was better but best is baking not frying. And they need to change their bread and use organic veggies.

    March 18, 2015 at 9:49 am

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