McDonald’s has announced it will stop buying chickens raised on human antibiotics within the next two years. The company will also start offering hormone-free milk and cheese. Nothing has yet been mentioned about beef products.

Reuters / Shannon Stapleton

Battling declining sales and image problems, the changes were announced Tuesday night at the “Turnaround Summit” with franchise owners in Las Vegas, and represent the first major reform by the new president and CEO Steve Easterbrook, previously in charge of McDonalds’ operations in the UK and Europe.

Several major US restaurant franchises have already abandoned antibiotic-treated meat.

Chick-fil-A, the largest restaurant seller of chicken in the US, announced in February 2014 it would phase out antibiotic-raised chicken over a period of five years. Chipotle and Panera already serve antibiotic-free chicken. With over 14,000 restaurants across the US, McDonald’s may turn the tide in the move away from antibiotic-treated livestock.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration urged a change in the practice, alarmed by the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. According to a CDC report from 2013, at least 23,000 Americans annually die from bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics.


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