Pressure is mounting on fast food giant McDonald’s to stop using products from animals treated with antibiotics. The pressure is coming from ShareAction, an investor action group, and it makes a lot of sense. However it is not as straightforward an implementation as those involved on all sides would wish. McDonald’s themselves point to the varying regulations globally. Regulations are only part of the story though; accurate information is the main issue. ShareAction set out sensible requests in the email it encourages consumers to submit to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook. In the EU, policy supports the reduction of antibiotic use, from the March 22nd new Animal Health Law, and the growing focus in the veterinary practice is to move away from blanket dosage of antibiotics, for example for mastitis..
Significant and speedy improvements can take place, but only with coordinated actions supported by the entire supply chain. Reducing the use of antibiotics is of massive societal importance, but changing on farm or veterinary methods requires thought and a user centred approach. The most glaring and addressable challenge is the absence of near real-time data and information. As the call from ShareAction and its coverage in the media show, there is an appetite out there from consumers, investors, policy makers and the wider industry for the use of antibiotics in agriculture to be reduced for sick animals and ended for healthy animals.
VirtualVet is working with partners and our network to devise strategic plans and develop innovative pilots to record the missing information and to unlock the potential in the resulting Big Data.