The Congregation of Benedictine Sisters, a McDonald’s Corp shareholder group from Boerne, Texas, is renewing its call for the restaurant chain to stop purchasing meat from animals raised with antibiotics. The shareholder resolution comes as many health experts express concern over excessive antibiotics in commercial meat contributing to the rising number of life-threatening human infections that come from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
As one of the members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the sisters have proposed this type of idea before. They withdrew the resolution once McDonald’s USA announced in March that it would phase out chicken produced with antibiotics important to human health within two years. However that step forward – while favorable – is still miles away from the group’s objective, said Sister Susan Mika, who represented the nuns at the McDonald’s annual meeting on May 21. With lingering concerns over the fast-food chain’s beef and pork supplies, the sisters are restoring their call to expand antibiotic policies.
“This double standard makes no sense to us; what’s good for the goose, ought to be good for the gander, or in this case, the whole farmyard,” said Mika on Thursday.
According to Reuters, an estimated 70 percent of antibiotics deemed important to human health are sold for use in meat and dairy production. As the number of human infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria (called “superbugs”) increases, public health experts and consumer advocates alike have begun condemning the practice of feeding antibiotics to chickens, cattle, and pigs.
When we buy meat from a grocery store, we’re generally given various choices. Reading the package can tell us whether it’s organic, grass-fed, non-GMO, and so on. Even some restaurants are now putting information on the farms they partner with to give the customer an idea of where their food is sourced from. Fast-food restaurants, however, have yet to follow suit. In fact a recent report looked at the use of antibiotics in the meat and poultry of the 25 largest fast food chains in the US. A whopping 20 of those 25 restaurants received an F grade, meaning they failed. The only chains that were given an A grade were Chipotle and Panera Bread. McDonald’s was just above its low-scoring competitors, receiving a C grade with 20 total points out of a possible 34.
“We can reach a lot of people’s lives every day if changes are made [at McDonald’s and other fast-food chains]” said Mika, adding that other shareholder groups of nuns and priests are planning to back the new resolution.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation, another ICCR member at Shelter Rock, of Manhasset, New York, separately filed a shareholder resolution of their own to Hormel Foods Corp, asking them to phase out the use of significant human antibiotics in the hogs and turkeys it raises and the ones they get from contract suppliers. Perhaps with enough attention, this risky practice of feeding our livestock these drugs can end, or at least, become much more transparent for consumers.