McDonald's Was Just Accused of Doing Something Very Unhealthy. Its Response Is Eye-Opening

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Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The headlines were menacing. 

They seemed to tell of a dirty little secret, one that many fast food joints had shared.

22 out of 25 had been deemed unacceptable. They got an F-grade.

Only Shake Shack, BurgerFi and Wendy’s passed. (And Wendy’s only just.)

The rest, said the collaborative Chain Reaction report — from the Center for Food Safety, Consumer Reports, Food Animal Concerns Trust, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Friends of the Earth, and Natural Resources Defense Council — were a disgrace.

What was their sin? Serving beef raised with the routine use of antibiotics.

Surely, you might think, antibiotics are good for you. At least, if you have a sinus infection. 

But no. As the Center for Food Safety told me:

Public health experts warn that the widespread use of antibiotics for meat production is rendering these medications less effective by contributing to the creation and spread of drug-resistant bacteria, sometimes known as superbugs.

No one wants a superbug, save for the few people on reality shows who appear to enjoy eating them.

Still, McDonald’s is the biggest name criticized in this report. It was the name most used in headlines, such as: Chain Reaction antibiotics report fails 22 of 25 burger chains, including McDonald’s.

So I thought I’d ask the burger chain whether its feelings were hurt at being failed so publicly.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman didn’t sound amused. She told me: 

Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations is highly important to McDonald’s. In 2016, McDonald’s fully implemented its pledge to no longer serve chicken treated with antibiotics important to human medicine in its US restaurants, which led to the 2018 implementation of an antibiotic use policy for broiler chicken in markets around the globe.

So you see, McDonald’s isn’t unaware of its social responsibilities.

Where’s the beef, McDonald’s? The spokeswoman again: 

McDonald’s is currently finalizing a global antibiotics policy for beef, to be announced before the end of 2018.

Why did it take so long? Isn’t it painful that Wendy’s is above you, even if the witty-Twittering chain only scored a D-?

McDonald’s final words were these:

Our ‘Global Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship in Food Animals’ provides guidance for the development of policies, and utilizes antibiotic categorization established by the World Health Organization. 

Look, McDonald’s seems to cry, we’re working with the WHO. What more do you want?

McDonald’s has much going on in just about every aspect of its business. It’s a cumbersome organization that’s desperately fighting more nimble and more modern competitors.

So now it bristles at accusations of being unhealthy.

Now, about all the calories in those fries.