: Global consumer organisations are calling on major fast food chains, namely McDonald's, Subway and KFC, to supply antibiotic-free meat in their chain of restaurants.
The call coincides with World Consumer Rights Day, observed on March 15 every year since 1983, which promotes the basic rights of consumers.
With this year's theme "Antibiotics Off The Menu", Consumers International (CI), a worldwide consumer movement, has put forth a campaign to get fast food companies to make a global commitment to stop the use of antibiotics in their food production.
This aims to tackle the challenge posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria or 'superbugs'. In a report launched last Feb 26, CI stated that antibiotic resistance constitutes a global public health crisis to which the overuse of antibiotics in farming is a major contributing factor.
"The use of antibiotics in agriculture is predicted to grow by two thirds: from 63,200 tonnes in 2010 to 105,600 tonnes in 2030. If urgent action is not taken to tackle antibiotic resistance, we could face a future where common infections and minor injuries can kill again," the report said.
CI said as market leaders in the fast food industry, McDonald's, KFC and Subway must take responsibility to drive a decrease in agricultural use of antibiotics.
“With over 100,000 restaurants worldwide between KFC, McDonald’s and Subway, they have a huge influence on the market for meat and animal products, and their actions have the power to drive a shift in antibiotic use in agriculture,” said CI Asia Pacific region head, Datuk Indrani Thuraisingam.
According to the report, McDonald’s has made time bound commitments in only two of the 100 countries in which it operates – US and Canada.
"The chain has committed to sourcing chicken raised without the routine use of antibiotics important for human medicine in the US by 2017 and in Canada by 2018. The commitment does not extend to other types of meat," the report said.
As for Subway, it has made a strong time-bound commitment only in the US, of the 111 countries in which it operates. It has committed to sourcing chicken (2016), turkey (2019), beef (2025) and pork (2025) raised without any antibiotics.
KFC, on the other hand, has made no meaningful commitment to sourcing antibiotic-free meat in any of its country of operation.
"Given the scale of the public health crisis the world is facing due to antibiotic resistance, the response from KFC, McDonald's and Subway, as market leaders, has been woefully inadequate," the report quoted CI director-general Amanda Long as saying.
With over 100,000 restaurants worldwide between them, McDonald’s, KFC and Subway have a huge influence on the market for meat and animal products; their actions have the power to reduce antibiotic use in agriculture faster than legislative changes.