Advocates urge McDonald’s to serve meat raised without antibiotics | WBEZ
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Advocates urge McDonald's to serve meat raised without antibiotics

Advocacy groups are urging McDonald’s Corp to stop serving meat from animals fed antibiotics.

Members of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition and Rosenthal Group held a press conference at Sopraffina Caffe in the Loop Thursday to formally challenge the fast food giant to rethink its meat sourcing on the issue.

McDonald’s Corp did not respond to requests for comment.

Leading the charge was Illinois PIRG, which launched the campaign along with its national parent in seven cities across the country Thursday.

“This is part of a larger public health issue of antibiotic resistance,” said Illinois PIRG advocate Dev Gowda. “The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms and the practice of feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals is leading to antibiotic resistance. Now 2 million Americans get sick each year and 23,000 die from antibiotic resistant infections  It’s a danger when people go to the doctor for routine infections and they get antibiotics, but sometimes they don’t work. So it’s a really scary situation for many families.”

Joining him was Taryn Kelly of the Rosenthal Group which owns Sopraffina Caffes, Poag Mahone and Trattoria No. 10 in Chicago. Four years ago all of those restaurants began sourcing their meat exclusively from producers who do not use antibiotics on healthy animals.

“It is hard work. It takes dedication and passion,” Kelly said. “You have to be passionate about the cause. And the more restaurants we can get on board the easier it will before us. That’s why we are here urging a big player like McDonald’s to get on board with us.”

When asked how such changes in sourcing affected prices for consumers, Kelly pointed out prices on the menu boards at the restaurant which included an 8-inch sandwich filled with grass fed beef raised without antibiotics. It cost $8.99. A 12-inch sausage and pepperoni pizza for two costs $10.49.

National chain Chick-Fil-A has pledged to start sourcing its chicken from producers who don’t use antibiotics within five years and local chain Hannah’s Bretzel has already instituted those standards for all of its meat.

In a released statement Rosenthal group president Dan Rosenthal said, “If McDonald’s were to [demand meat raised without antibiotics from] its suppliers, it would be a game changer, and one that would help preserve these vital drugs for our kids and grandkids. We’ve done it for all the meat we buy for our restaurants…it’ll take time, but McDonald’s can do it, too!”

In 2003, McDonald’s put in place a policy that would prevent the use of antibiotics for growth promotion but would still allow them for disease prevention among healthy animals. And they do not apply to all producers.

Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at meng@wbez.org

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