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McDonald’s Fresh Quarter Pounder: Let’s Go Further

By Steve Blackledge
Public Health Program Director

Yesterday, McDonald's announced a plan to boost the sales of the Quarter Pounder — using fresh beef instead of frozen patties.

I'm no restaurant marketing expert, but offering fresh beef does seem like a reasonable way to entice new customers and boost sales. The move received coverage from major media outlets.

But to the marketing team at McDonald's, here's an idea from your old playbook: commit to using beef and pork that's raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

Remember when you did this for chicken in March 2015? Remember how we praised you in the Washington Post (we said "we're lovin' it"), the Chicago Tribune (we said your action "will signal to the marketplace a huge and growing demand for chicken raised without the routine use of antibiotics"), and more?

Remember how your profits and sales beat expectations for three straight quarters after your antibiotics' announcement?

Those were good times. Let's do it again for beef and pork.

I have no reason to think it can't work again from a marketing perspective, but more importantly, it's needed from a public health perspective.

The overuse of antibiotics on large, industrial farms breeds superbugs — aka bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. We can't have that. We can't keep sprinting toward what the World Health Organization calls a "post-antibiotic era" in which "common infections and minor injuries ... can once again kill."

So what say you, McDonald's? Let's do Quarter Pounders with beef raised without the routine use of antibiotics, boosting sales and protecting public health in one fell swoop.

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