Our long-term goal is to find ways to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics on the farms that our suppliers source from. We have made great progress over the past year as we joined our key suppliers, farmers and ranchers in investigating environments, therapies and treatments that will reduce the need for preventive antibiotics.
We have completed the process of eliminating all antibiotics important to human medicine from chicken production. All chicken raised for our restaurants today meets this requirement and will be process verified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure compliance.
Pork and Beef production are especially complex and elimination of these antibiotics is harder to accomplish without compromising animal wellbeing. We are working with like-minded producers and farmers to reduce the routine use of medically important antibiotics in beef and pork while protecting the need for targeted, therapeutic use of an antibiotic in the limited cases where a sick animal needs to be treated individually, or in the unlikely case that animals have been exposed to an illness and treatment with an antibiotic is necessary to prevent a disease outbreak. Further, it’s important to note, the Federal Meat Inspection Act assures that all pork and beef are inspected by USDA federal inspectors. These inspectors check for any potential antibiotic residue remaining in the animal. And at the farm, farmers are required to comply with FDA regulations to ensure that proper use and withdrawal times are followed.
Wendy’s only sources fed cattle, which are animals raised specifically for high quality beef grades such as USDA Prime, Choice and Select. This higher specification, part of our heritage of high-quality and “fresh, never frozen” beef, means the animals are younger and healthier, and likely require less medical treatment than older animals. With a commitment to quantify the antibiotic use within our beef supply chain and to reduce it meaningfully over time, in 2017, we engaged with a consortium of like-minded beef producers. As a result, beginning in 2018, Wendy’s will source about 15% of its beef from this progressive group of producers that have each committed to a 20% reduction of the only medically important antibiotic routinely fed to their cattle. Importantly, these producers will ensure that the antibiotic use in their cattle can be tracked and reduced. Wendy’s is committed to increasing the amount of beef purchased from these producers and those following similar management practices in the future.
Wendy’s only uses “market hogs,” which are pigs raised specifically for pork. The animals are younger and healthier, and likely require less medical treatment than older animals. In addition, 100% of our supply chain is also part of the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program and operates under the federal Veterinary Feed Directive, which we believe has already yielded a decrease in overall antibiotic use. As a next step, we are working with suppliers who are like-minded in their approach on this issue with an eye toward progressively decreasing the use of antibiotics on the farms that supply us. We will work with our producers to quantify the reductions in antibiotic use and are committed to reporting our progress.