What Does McDonald’s Mean When it Says it Will Begin Using “Verified Sustainable Beef” in 2016?

Considering McDonald's sells about 1 billion pounds of beef annually in the U.S., this could be huge.

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McDonald’s has announced plans to begin purchasing “verified sustainable beef” during 2016 following a two-year ramp up during which it will “listen, learn, and collaborate with stakeholders from farm to the front counter to develop sustainable beef solutions,” reports Burger Business.

Considering McDonald’s sells about 1 billion pounds of beef annually in the U.S., this move could change the livestock industry, the food supply and distribution system, and the world. But, we’re more than a little skeptical of the specifics of this grand plan.

McDonald’s explains on a new page on its corporate website that “there hasn’t been a universal definition of sustainable beef.” So, who really knows how the sustainable beef McDonald’s plans to sell in 2016 will be raised, how it will be fed, and what will make it “sustainable.”

Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU, tells us:

“Without knowing what McD means by sustainable, it’s difficult to say how this will make an impact.

If it used my definition, which encompasses grass feeding, waste composting, no antibiotics or hormones, and other such things, this would be huge. It would create an enormous market for beef raised this way and encourage a much healthier beef-production system.

Until the term ‘verified sustainable beef’ has a clear definition, it’s hard to know how much of an impact this is likely have, in any case not before 2016.”

According to its website, Mickey D’s has been working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Cargill, Walmart, and JBS since 2011 to develop the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). The chain claims its working towards using “sustainable beef” because:

“Burgers remain some of our most iconic menu items. Additionally, we want to do our part to improve environmental practices in the way beef is produced, support positive workplaces in the beef industry, and drive continuous improvement in animal health and welfare. Plus, we envision doing all of this while providing affordability and quality, along with economic viability for those who raise cattle and produce beef.”

If this isn’t some kind of ridiculous marketing ploy—and McDonald’s is truly working towards using beef that keeps the environment healthy and food production economically and socially viable—there’s a lot to look forward to in 2016. But don’t hold your breath.

[via Burger Business]

 

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