BERKELEY, CA—JUNE 29, 2021—Wendy’s has updated its Antibiotic Use Policy with a firm commitment to end all routine use of medically important antibiotics in its U.S. and Canadian beef, pork, and chicken supply chains by 2030. This bold commitment moves the company swiftly from lagging behind McDonald’s to a fast-food leader in reducing antibiotic risk in beef and pork. This change comes after years of pressure from investors and public health advocates.
“We are thrilled that Wendy’s is publicly committing to take the actions necessary to reduce antibiotic risk in its meat supply chains,” said Christy Spees, environmental health program manager at As You Sow. “This leadership is critical for sending a clear message to producers that use of medically important antibiotics needs to end in order to prevent the next pandemic.”
The World Health Organization considers antibiotic resistance one of the biggest present threats to global health, food security, and development. Antibiotic resistant infections are already widespread across the globe. When antibiotics are no longer effective, common illnesses can become fatal. In the U.S., a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year, resulting in more than 35,000 deaths. The estimated national cost of treating these infections is almost $5 billion annually.
Use of antibiotics in food animals is a significant contributor to this global problem. As You Sow has been engaging with companies along the meat supply chain for years, calling for urgent reductions in the use of antibiotics. Progress has been made in recent years in reducing antibiotics in chicken, but the beef and pork sectors have been slow to move.
As You Sow filed a shareholder resolution with Wendy’s in 2020, asking the company to report on its progress toward reducing medically important antibiotics in all of its meat supply chains. We withdrew the proposal when the company committed to increase its partnerships with beef suppliers working to reduce antibiotic use. Significantly, and in great news for public health, this new commitment to actually end use of medically important antibiotics in beef and pork is far more ambitious.
“We are now calling on other fast food and restaurant companies to follow suit,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. “It is no longer acceptable to call this problem insurmountable. We can and must change course to prevent the antibiotic resistance crisis from growing.”