McDonald’s has achieved its goal of eliminating the use of antibiotics important to human medicine from its chicken supply chain earlier than expected, the company announced.

McDonald’s, addressing concerns about a possible link between antimicrobial resistance and antibiotics in animal agriculture while still protecting animal health, in March 2014 announced its plans to eliminate antibiotics also used in human medicine. The plan was initially to phase out such antibiotic use by March 2017. Less than one month ago, Ernie Meier, director of quality for McDonald's, told attendees at the Chicken Marketing Summit that McDonald’s is well on its way to achieving that goal.

But in a press release dated August 1, the company announced that it had already completed the transition. “Through a collaborative effort with its suppliers and farmers on a large scale, the company was able to make this change a reality and bring it to its customers nearly a year ahead of schedule,” McDonald’s stated. “Now every chicken item McDonald’s serves is made from chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine, including its new Chicken McNuggets.”

“I applaud efforts such as those undertaken by McDonald’s in close collaboration with its suppliers and poultry farmers, to greatly reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in its animal agricultural food supply chain,” stated Dr. H. Morgan Scott, professor of epidemiology in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at Texas A&M University. “McDonald’s and its suppliers have worked to identify appropriate alternatives for sustaining broiler flock health while implementing protocols to ensure that animal welfare is not compromised. Sourcing decisions by industry leaders such as McDonald’s have great potential to positively influence appropriate antibiotic stewardship in food animal sectors around the world.”