Date
18 December 2017
A file picture shows a McDonald's restaurant in Fuzhou, China. The fast-food chain has announced that it will begin cutting antibiotics use in its global chicken supply. Photo: CNSA
A file picture shows a McDonald's restaurant in Fuzhou, China. The fast-food chain has announced that it will begin cutting antibiotics use in its global chicken supply. Photo: CNSA

McDonald’s vows antibiotics-free chicken but no clarity on China

McDonald’s Corp. has declared that it will phase out from 2018 the sale of chicken raised with antibiotics, but it appears the Greater China market is not on the firm’s priority list for the move.

According to news website hk01.com, consumers in the Greater China region, which refers to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, may have to wait until as late as 2027 to benefit from the fast-food chain’s initiative.

In a statement on Wednesday, McDonald’s said: “Starting in 2018, we will begin implementing a new broiler chicken antibiotics policy in markets around the world, which will require the elimination of antibiotics defined by the WHO as Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials (HPCIA) to human medicine.”

According to the plan, the fast-food chain will stop selling chicken treated with antibiotics in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Europe from January 2018.

By the end of 2019, the same will apply to its restaurants in Australia and Russia.

It will only be fully implemented globally by January 2027, although McDonald’s has claimed the goal is to have the policy implemented before then.

Some industry watchers speculate that Greater China could be at the bottom of the list and that consumers in the region may have to accept chicken with antibiotics for another 10 years from the restaurant chain.

While antibiotics have long been used to facilitate poultry growth and prevent the birds from getting sick, scientists have regarded such practice as one of the reasons for emergence of so-called “super bacteria” with strong drug resistance.

To significantly prevent prevalence of super bacteria, experts have been warning against abuse of antibiotics and calling for appropriate use of the medicines.

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TL/JC/RC

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