In perhaps what is one of the boldest steps taken by a major American company yet in the fight against superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, McDonalds restaurant has announced they will stop purchasing chicken raised with the use of antibiotics.

According to this Reuters story published March 4th, 2015, “The world’s biggest restaurant chain announced on Wednesday that within two years, McDonald’s USA will only buy chickens raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine. The concern is that the overuse of antibiotics for poultry may diminish their effectiveness in fighting disease in humans. McDonald’s policy will begin at the hatchery, where chicks are sometimes injected with antibiotics while still in the shell.”

As the rate of superbug infections increases and awareness expands about the growing threat this poses to human health, there is more pressure on some key areas – agriculture and poultry in particular – to stop the wide-spread “preventative” use of antibiotics. This is different from spot applications used to treat infections, or anti-microbial products preventing the growth of bacteria on high-contamination surfaces.

Superbugs are linked to an estimated 23,000 human deaths and 2 million illnesses every year in the United States, and up to $20 billion in direct healthcare costs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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McDonald’s USA to phase out human antibiotics from chicken supply