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L&G ramps up pressure on McDonald’s over antibiotics in beef

One of Britain’s largest asset managers is pressuring McDonald’s over its use of antibiotics in factory farming.

One of Britain’s biggest asset managers is lobbying McDonald’s over its use of antibiotics in factory farming.

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) will vote in favor of a motion at the burger chain’s annual meeting this week urging it to publish a report on the public health cost of drugs.

The existence of the motion, which was brought by Trinity College Cambridge, was first revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week.

Once bitten: Legal & General will vote in favor of a motion at McDonald's annual meeting urging it to publish a report on the public health cost of drugs

Once bitten: Legal & General will vote in favor of a motion at McDonald’s annual meeting urging it to publish a report on the public health cost of drugs

Corporate raider Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor who inspired Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, has also put his name on the proposal, as has investment consultancy PIRC.

LGIM, one of McDonald’s top 20 shareholders, fears the overuse of antibiotics in meat production is fueling the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.

The pension group said: “While we note the company’s previous efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in its chicken, beef and pork supply chain, we believe AMR [anti-microbial resistance] it is a financially material issue for the company and other stakeholders.

“Without coordinated action today, AMR could spark the next global health crisis.”

According to the World Bank, the growing threat of AMR could cause up to ten million deaths a year by 2050. A recent report in the medical journal The Lancet suggested that this figure may be an underestimate.

Icahn, 86, is behind a separate resolution to appoint two directors to McDonald’s board in a bid to hold the company accountable for a promise to improve the treatment of pigs.

Activists have complained that McDonald’s has continued to work with suppliers who use so-called “gestation stations.” Icahn says company bosses, in private conversations with him, promised to phase them out by this year.

The cages are so small that they prevent the pregnant sows from turning around. They have been banned in the UK since 1999.

McDonald’s has rejected Icahn’s claims, saying that sourcing all of its pork from suppliers that never use gestation crates is “completely unfeasible” as these companies represent a small fraction of the pork industry.

Proxy consultancies Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services oppose the antibiotics motion and the move to put two directors on McDonald’s board.

McDonald’s said it is committed to reducing antibiotics “where appropriate and measurable.”

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