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McDonald's to Stop Using Chickens With Human Antibiotics

Fast food giant makes change as it struggles to compete with smaller rivals who market more wholesome alternatives.
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O Happy Meal. McDonald's is cleaning up its act when it comes to chickens raised with antibiotics used to fight human infections. The fast food chain said Wednesday that it plans to begin phasing out from its menus chicken raised with antibiotics important to human medicine and milk from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST.

The company said the chicken change will take place within the next two years. It says suppliers will still be able to use a type of antibiotic called ionophores that keep chickens healthy and aren't used on humans. The milk change will take place later this year.

The announcement comes as the fast-food giant struggles to shake its junk-food image amid intensifying competition from smaller rivals positioning themselves as more wholesome alternatives. McDonald's has long battled negative perceptions about its food, but the issue has become a bigger vulnerability as more people shift toward options they feel are made with natural ingredients. The "clean label" movement has prompted companies across the industry including Chipotle, Panera and Subway to purge ingredients with unrecognizable chemical names from their recipes, even while standing by their safety.


-- The Associated Press and NBC News staff