GLOBAL –  The FAIRR initiative, a collaborative investor network that raises awareness of the material ESG risks and opportunities in intensive livestock, has instigated a global request to 12 major fast food chains to disclose their antibiotic use and reduction policies to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the protein supply chain.

Companies in question include McDonald’s, Yum! Brands (KFC & Pizza Hut) and Restaurant Brands International (Burger King).

“AMR not only poses a threat to public health, killing over one million people each year but represents a significant risk to the wider economy – with potential impacts felt from trade to healthcare, to livestock output,” Jo Raven, director of Thematic Research and Corporate Innovation at the FAIRR Initiative said.

“Disclosure must go hand-in-hand with rigorous policies that cover all geographic regions and types of animal products sold by fast food retailers and is an important step toward setting measurable targets for reducing antibiotic use.”

According to FAIRR, the disclosure initiative aims to tackle AMR in animal protein supply chains and asks that the franchises provide information about the quantity and type of antibiotics used and progress toward antibiotics reduction targets aligned with WHO guidelines.

Companies will be asked to demonstrate sufficiently rigorous existing antibiotic policies and provide evidence of implementation through target setting and auditing.

The initiative also calls for policies to cover all key proteins rather than limiting them to subsets such as poultry, which has been a common approach to date, and to disclose the types of antibiotics in use and in what quantity.

“AMR is a US$100 trillion threat to the global economy, according to FAIRR and the fast food chains are a key driver. This represents a systemic risk, like climate change or COVID-19, which could harm investor portfolios,” FAIRR said.

“Failure to adequately address AMR could result in ten million deaths annually and a substantial 3.8% decline in global GDP by 2050.”

The overuse of antibiotics, particularly in the animal industry and poor food safety practices is a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the food system. 

The new initiative move will see 71 institutional investors and representatives collectively worth US$15.2 trillion in combined assets join a Restaurant Antibiotics Engagement led by FAIRR’s investor network.

The investor group will write to the companies requesting additional information, followed by company dialogues until December 2023. FAIRR will publish the first formal company assessments in Spring 2024. 

Other companies targeted are Bloomin’ Brands, Brinker International, Darden Restaurants, Domino’s Pizza Inc, Papa John’s International, Starbucks, Texas Roadhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, Wendy’s Company, Yum! Brands.

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