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As one of the biggest and most widely recognized fast food chains in the world, it should come as no surprise to see McDonald’s regularly featured in the media. Just over a week after it was reported that vinyl plastic was found in their infamous Chicken McNuggets in Japan, spurring a major recall, McDonald’s has made news once again involving the popular chicken snack.

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McDonald’s announced that they will be phasing out the use of chicken meat from chickens raised with antibiotics that are important to human medicine.

On the surface, this certainly is a step in the right direction, as the use of antibiotics on animals (especially for growth promotion) is widely frowned upon, and many other restaurants, including Chipotle and A&W, have fully eliminated it from their menus as a result. But I personally think this announcement sets a new precedent for how little a baby step in the right direction can be.

The qualifier to their statement, “important to human medicine,” is pretty depressing when it comes to realizing how little of a change this actually is. Rather than eliminating the use of all antibiotics, they have instead opted to only account for those that are considered similar to ones regularly used in human medicine. This means that a number of antibiotics that do not fall under this bracket will continue to be acceptable based on McDonald’s standards – including many which are injected solely for meat growth promotion.

The Illusion of Change

McDonald’s has faced a substantial amount of scrutiny over the years, with their McNuggets in particular often being the centrepiece – due in large part to the infamous picture featuring a mysterious pink substance that many have linked to their McNuggets. In an attempt to combat this, the company recently launched an advertising campaign focused upon transparency, where several consumer questions and concerns were publicly answered and made available.

Featured in the McDonald's full transparency campaign.

Featured in the McDonald’s full transparency campaign.

Both this campaign and now the announcement certainly support the potentiality that the company is engaged in a form of damage control. This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that the company has posted a decrease in sales for the 9th straight month. The question is whether or not the fast food mega-giant actually cares for our health or if they are simply doing these initiatives in an attempt to re-drive us towards the golden arches?

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Even though the change is a minuscule step in the right direction, it still is a step and I commend McDonald’s for taking it. However, as a restaurant with over 35,000 global locations, I certainly hope this effort is followed up with some more substantial progress, which it seems is being rightfully (albeit slowly) demanded by the public – who seem to be consuming it less and less.


What are your thoughts on the changes made by McDonald’s? Do you think that they actually care for our well-being? Or are these campaigns and announcements solely to give us the illusion of concern? Let us know via the comment section below.


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