McDonald’s – voting on antibiotic use within the supply chain

The issue

Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue with negative impacts on human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies it as one of the top global public health and development threats, putting many of the gains of modern medicine at risk,1 and the World Bank considers that it may have potentially significant impacts on global GDP until 2050.2 

In May 2023, two shareholder-led resolutions were included on the ballot which focused on antibiotic use in the McDonald’s beef and pork supply chain. McDonald’s is the USA’s largest purchaser of beef and pork. 

The first resolution stated that the company had watered down its 2018 commitment to set reduction targets of medically important antibiotics across 80% of its global beef supply by the end of 2020. It stated that this had been replaced by a weaker pledge for their responsible use rather than reduction. 

The second shareholder resolution called for McDonald’s to institute a policy to comply with WHO guidelines on using medically important antimicrobials. The guidelines call for a reduction in antibiotics in food-producing animals and a ban on the use of antibiotics as a growth promoter. 


We voted in favour of these two shareholder resolutions, against ISS’s recommendation to reject them. We assessed each resolution and voted according to our own judgement. We considered antibiotic use to be financially material to the food industry and sustaining value at McDonald’s over the long term. Both resolutions focused on responsible use of antibiotics and indirectly protected McDonald’s stakeholders, including customers, local communities, and suppliers. Our position aligned with guidance set out in our voting policy. 


In spite of ISS failing to back these shareholder resolutions, they received the support of 16.3% and 18.4% of votes cast respectively – a sizeable share without proxy advisor support. We hope that the management of McDonald’s will note the size of this vote against and consider this when setting future policy. 



  2. World Bank. 2017. ‘Drug-Resistant Infections: A Threat to Our Economic Future’. Washington, DC: World Bank. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO