Fast food and superbugs

Does it really make a difference to eat organic, locally-sourced food? What’s the problem with eating fast food from chains such as McDonald’s? Well, one current issue is the way global companies like Mcdonald’s source their meat, which may ultimately be detrimental to everyone’s health.

Responsible investment charity ShareAction are currently campaigning to prevent overuse of antibiotics in rearing livestock for McDonald’s burgers and other fast food products.

A recent BBC article reports that mass treatment of livestock with antibiotics is leading to a rise in drug-resistant ‘superbugs’. Of course, animals should be treated appropriately when they are sick. But it appears that antibiotics are routinely used to prevent rather than treat ill-health, and to promote faster growth. (Using antibiotics to promote growth in animals was banned by the EU in 2006, but it isn’t clear yet what impact leaving the EU will have on various legislation including agriculture. And the practice is still common in other parts of the world outside the EU).

ShareAction’s CEO, Catherine Howarth, says that: “Improved animal welfare practices are a far more sensible way to prevent disease than antibiotic overuse”. Why does it matter? Well – apart from the fact that for many people animal welfare is an important goal in its own right – if bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, it could post a significant risk to global public health in the future making it much harder, if not impossible, to treat infections and carry out operations. For women, pregnancy and childbirth could become potentially much more dangerous.

If you’d like to join ShareAction’s campaign to ‘Tell McDonalds to stop supersizing antibiotic resistance’, you can find more information here.

You can also find more information about factory farming of pigs (not specifically linked to McDonalds but informative on both animal welfare issues and related antibiotic overuse) in this video by Farms Not Factories.

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Sue Written by:

I'm a finance professional who's interested in whether we're accounting for the right things in the right ways.

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