Farmers in McDonald's supply chain will not be allowed to use antibiotics that are important to humans, but they can still use ionophores, a type of antibiotic not used in human medicine.
The company said it will continue to treat ill animals with prescribed antibiotics but that poultry will no longer be allowed in its food supply.
Is McDonald's the first company to phase out antibiotics?
McDonald's is not the first business to roll back the use of antibiotics in its food-supply chain.
Meatpacker Tyson Foods Inc. says it has reduced antibiotics in its supply by 84% since 2011.
Why is McDonald's doing this now?
The fast-food chain has been battling the perception its food is unhealthful as customers increasingly have turned to fast-casual chains such as Chipotle that emphasize "all-natural" ingredients.
Sales dipped in 2014 and McDonald's has said it will begin testing a simplified menu along with customized offerings to regain lost ground. The chain even released a series of videos starring a former host of the hit show "MythBusters" that showcased exactly how products like Chicken McNuggets are made.
Steve Easterbrook took over as chief executive this week and told investors he was attempting to turn the chain into a "modern, progressive burger company."
Why are antibiotics used in livestock in the first place?
Antibiotics have been used to promote faster growth of farm animals. The
The FDA move followed a 2013 outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella linked to Foster Farms chicken from plants in central California that sickened nearly 400 people.
What effect will McDonald's move have?
Analysts and consumer advocates said that McDonald's announcement could influence not only other chains but chicken production as a whole. The chain purchased 3% to 4% of the 39 billion pounds of chicken produced in the U.S. last year, Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, told USA Today. Christopher Muller, a professor of hospitality at Boston University, told the newspaper that McDonald's was a "market maker" for chicken products.
What about other types of meat or poultry outside the U.S.?
Wednesday's announcement is limited only to poultry products within the United States; the company's beef and pork in the U.S. is not affected by the ban on antibiotics. McDonald's also this week announced that it would globally ban medically important antibiotics from being used to promote growth in livestock. But the company said it would still allow human antibiotics to treat and prevent diseases in all its livestock elsewhere in the world.
In an interview with The Times, Jonathan Kaplan, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's food and agriculture program, called the global disease prevention rule a "loophole" because suppliers can still use antibiotics to prevent diseases that arise from crowded and unsanitary conditions.
"Producers are using these antibiotics as a crutch to prop up that system," he said.
He urged McDonald's to expand its chicken rules to all livestock across the globe.