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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  April 23, 2015 11:30pm-12:01am EDT

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this 3d nebula. thousands of stars sit among pillars of dark dense gas. the hubble captured the first image of this. they say the hubble telescope completely transformed how we view the universe. >> hello i'm ray suarez. mcdonald's, cash registers ringing, is a company that americans hate love and hate to love. changing what farmers ro grow and away we eat. now the company's announced it won't buy chickens raised using human antibiotics. mickey d's, changing what people eat and how they eat it.
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in recycling and nutrition in many ways mcdonald's is a trend-spotter, what will this new policy mean to everyone who sells, makes and eats food? it's is "inside story." >> being a major seller of cooked food in the united states, mcdonald's watches trends closely. when the exan was company was bashed for wasted packaging, it responded with new packaging efforts and new messages to the public. when the world knocked the children's offerings, mcdonald's changed that. supersize me, its move to low
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fat milk when reporting and activists focused attention how cows were raised for hamburger meat, the company reduced the hormones in the meat itself. applause from some sectors skepticism from others, at a time when more and more attention is focused on antibiotics, what species of potatoes are used, it's a big deal. mcdonald's has announced that this year, mcdonald's will not use chickens whose eggs are important to human medicine. it sells more chicken than any other restaurant chain. how much chicken are we talk going? the national chicken council says 39 billion pounds of chicken is produced every year in the united states. the council says mcdonald's buys three to 4% of that or roughly 1.5 billion pounds. why are they moving away from
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human antibiotics? in the company's company's press release mike andres set, we want to produce food that people feel good about, farm to restaurants. inside the chickens we eat with dr. david walin inga. welcome to the program. >> thank you ray. glad to be here. >> is mcdonald's leading a trend or confirming one that was already underway? >> i would say a little bit of both. the trend may be started about a decade ago but with smaller companies like chipotle and panera. companies as large as mcdonald's makes a huge splash. >> why do companies dose
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chickens with antibiotics in the first place? >> that's a good question. the apt biotics on the face of it are used for a couple of different reasons. one, they're used for treating flocks where birds are sick. but as it turns out that use is pretty minor when it comes to the other uses. those uses are for making chickens grow faster, putting on weight with less feed. or to offset risk of infection from raising so many birds under conditions that are often not very sanitary crowded and very stressful. >> oh so by dosing them with antibiotics you are able to grow them in more crowded conditions than you would be otherwise? one illness would take out a whole bunch of chickens otherwise? >> absolutely. that's one of the reasons. it's quite complicated. the problem is it's quite hard to parse out exactly why they're being used from one case to
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another because the labels on the products mean that they can be used for either promoting faster growth or for what they call disease prevention and control, and there's really no way to tell one from the other. >> dr. walinga, i want to take a look at what mcdonald's says about this policy. while mcdonald's will only source chicken, menu will continue to responsibly use ionofores, a type of antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens health. let's talk about two things, important to human medicine and responsibly used ionophores. they are still sticking with ones the they give to chickens. >> yes, i think it's an important distinction. the human drugs are the ones we ought to be focused on mostly.
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these are things like penicillin and tetra sigh psych cycline. when you put that in their feed pretty much continuously over the life of the bird what you end up doing is creating and helping to spread bacteria in those birds that are resistant to those ant bottlics and then those -- antibiotics and those resistant bugs can spread to the meat we eat or in the farm environment and then reach people. so by taking those out of the chicken supply chain mcdonald's is doing a good thing. those human antibiotics account for about 60% of all the antibiotics used in agriculture. even by buckle they are about 60%.
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they are not important to humans so there is still some potential that they carry some risk to humans down the road. but for right now, i think mcdonald's has the emphasis right. >> so let's say you've been selling chickens to mcdonald's, maybe for a long time because they have very significant relationships with their suppliers. you get the note from company headquarters in illinois that now they don't want you to use this anymore. is it hard to stop? is it hard to change the way you raise a chicken, so that you don't have to use human antibiotics any longer? >> well, yes and no. i think it might have been harder at one point but i think companies are starting to figure it out. so you're seeing companies like purdue for example which has made a vow to get rid of all antibiotics in their chicken supply chain and about half of the chickens they produce now are produced with no antibiotics at all.
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so clearly they are learning how to do it and they can do it quite quickly. on the other hand, it's much easier to get rid of these human antibiotics in chickens than it would be for example in pigs. if you look at mcdonald's initiatives and their announcement they're not really beginning to address pig production or beef production. >> over the years you've consulted with mcdonald's do you come away with this latest announcement convinced that this is actually a move dedicated to human health or one that just is aware of the fact that the public watches this kind of thing, and keeps track of it? >> well, i actually don't think it matters much. it's probably a little of both. but i think mcdonald's, like any good, profitable company has its eye on where the marketplace is going. and i think what we've seen pretty loud and clear is the
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market shifting in a major way towards sourcing meat raised with either very much fewer or no antibiotics at all. now if in the process mcdonald's end up reducing the amount of antibiotics used by a huge amount, that's all to the better. and there will are a benefit to public health. so -- there will be a benefit to public health. on't know that it matters why they are doing it but they do it thoroughly. >> dr. david walenga, thank you for being with us. thank you. >> when we come back, the pressures faced by big restaurant changes and suppliers. when mcdonald's makes a move will others follow whether they want to or not? is this announced change more food public relations than anything else? will it make a difference when you are choosing a casual meal?
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stay with us. it's "inside story."
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>> welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. we're looking at the announcement by mcdonald's this week that it will stop buying chickens raised on antibiotics also used on humans. in the days since, there's been praise and skepticism. we're looking inside big food. chick-fil-a had already moved to antibiotic free poultry. panera has used it for a century. susan von broderers and arianda gann. welcome both of you.
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ended. do you think this is public relations, mcdonald's is famously well aware of what people are saying about it or an important change in the american food supply? >> i think it's a bit of both. i think it's what americans have been wanting a while, they've been wanting transparency . where their foods are produced how they are produced and where they're coming pr. it'sfrom. it's got to be good pr. i think it's a bit of both. >> your chdges chickens from your suppliers have always been raise raised without antibiotics. is it easy for your farmers or for someone who is doing large factory farming?
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>> yes of course, thank you for having me ray. but yeah, it's easier to raise chickens in the small farm in the natural way, without any medication, with space, without stress, and there it's okay to use no medication. it's almost easy. you know, you use it, of course you use it whether an animal gets sick but that's it. and to go back to what you were saying a little bit earlier, those factory farms, they have to use massive amounts, whether it's to promote growth, help the digestive track or just take off the stress of putting that hue humongous amounts of birds in the same coop. for me, for dartagnan, for my company, our philosophy has been never ever. never ever have any antibiotics
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from birth. and that also means any antibiotic. i'm no doctor but when i read they will not choose antibiotics important to human medicine, to me that means they will still use antibiotics. and antibiotics up to today are a proponent to get bacteria resistant, to where they are made just for animals or made for human beings. that said, dartagnan, the taste getting your chickens maturing the right way, taking time and with a lot of space and without medication, we'll get the pest tasting. >> you just heard a distinction being made by continuing to use chicken antibiotics and just stopping using the ones used on human beings. is mcdonald's getting a lot of attention for doing something
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that's maybe not really that significant? >> no, this is incredibly significant. and it will play out not only in the fast food chain but also in the retailers and the home cook by eliminating products from their food chain from hatchery from promotion from growth you're eliminating that pressure that antibiotics put, and taking our foot off the accelerator, we will have ripple prepared throughout. the home cook will reap the benefits as the rest of the industry comes to the table on this. >> is mcdonald's big enough a buyer that its power is enough to change the way factories raise the birds? >> it's a stepping-stone. we heard costco come out today as well saying they will change some of their policies. they are a big enough producing company and they know how to do
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media and they are a national company. i do think this is a change of something that is not only important for their prmplet pr but for all completely. >> ifpublic health. >> if you are not going to give human antibiotics anymore, it's eventually going to cost somebody some money, that the chicken isn't going to grow as fast, that it's not going to get to market faster, doesn't add breast and thigh meat faster? getting chicken ready to eat? >> i'm not in the fast food business but what i know of it is to get the meat protein as fast as possible. they will find a way, animal antibiotics or other techniques they will find a way. and it's all fine. it is i agree, it is a step in
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the right direction but it is a very, very small step. one it is not all antibiotics. two, it doesn't touch the beef which i think is a big part of the afford that has to be made. beef is not only administered antibiotics. >> i'm going to talk about beef later on in the program. but changing the economics of getting a bird ready for slaughter, are we talking about a few pennies per pound, are we talking about a significant amount of money in the difference it takes you to bring chicken to the market versus a factory producer? >> there is a difference between -- when you look at a chicken, a whole chicken in dollars amount you look at the number of -- the food amount
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that you gave that chicken. it's 99% of the cost of that chicken is the food that it took. so usually, commodity chicken live up until 38 days old. sometimes 40 days old. regular commercial chicken that are raised in a little more artist nal inal way you can see there where the difference in cost is going to be. a championship that's 85 days is going to cost at least double than the one at 40-and-some. so the medication needed to to factory farm those chickens is important but the number of days is even more important. >> we heard dr. walinger earlier in the program speculate how
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difficult it is going to be to take antibiotics out of the stream of what goes into a chicken before it goes out the other end to become a sandwich or end up on a rotisserie. is this part of the learning curve, what you have been telling food producers all along, you can do without it? >> yes, i think its an important distinction to be made. antibiotics residue would be in the meat they eat, or antibiotic resistant back bacteria is what we're talking about here. we're trying to make that antibiotic resistance out of the stream. ionophores don't have the ability to create antibiotic resistance bacteria. that's the reason we haven't
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been pushing for the changes in that use. the medically important antibiotics, we need the tetracyclines and floroquinalones, i think that mcdonald's has really been a leader on this and i think this is a big change. that will have effects throughout the entire industry. >> we'll have more of "inside story" after this short break. when we return, new york congresswoman louise slaughter says mcdonald's is proof that when people demand change, what is the next steps for the fight for better food, is a safer healthier sandwich going to be
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one fast food diners say they cannot afford to buy?
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>> you're watching "inside story" on al jazeera america.
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i'm ray suarez. fast food joint mcdonald's is moving away from chickens raised using antibiotics. some activists have pointed out, there's no way that to prove that the antibiotics won't be used. a fast food sandwich isn't only made to be tasty, but it's supposed to be cheap. what would demands be made on mcdonald's and the other big restaurant chains, what would they mean to the way the animals are raised, what the public eats what a meal would cost? arien d ogan and suzanne chambers are still with me.
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if we did what you want and other food activists want to change a way a pig is raised, a could you is raised, a chicken is raised, would we end up paying a lot more? >> i think for the answer to overseas. if you look to eu, if you look to denmark, denmark produces pigs. they are still in industrial fashion but they're able to do it without that pressure, that selective pressure that we're putting on that bacteria that gets in animal guts by using medically approved antibiotics. it's not as big a change that the food industry would like us to think. it's going to take time but husband ban try and other things will take time to work out. >> is there a public that's willing to spend a couple of cents more per pound on meat
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that's raised differently and raised what they believe is better versus a public that doesn't care about these things at all and is willing to look for the cheapest sandwich? >> well, we at dartagnan is proof that there is a shift in the public and a growing demand for good healthy wholesome meets and poultry. it's not a couple of cents, it's more than that. it does cost more to raise artisan artisan ally, there is a coast for that, to mature the animals at dartagnan we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. we are 30 years old this year. we are growing leaps and bounds
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only with meat poultry, antibiotic free, be as much as possible heritage organic meat and poultry. we are proof that people, not people at large but more and more of the public is interested in eating wholesome products and is ready to shift priorities and spend more money in ingesting good meats. because people are realizing little by little, that you are what you eat. that said, we are really less than a pimple on the face of the united states, very far to go. it is very encouraging for people -- people i'm jenlzing.
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there is more conscience going open. >> are more americans, are you convinced that more americans are finding out more about what they're putting in their mouth and thus are willing to push back on companies? congresswoman slaughter said this is proof that pressure works. you must believe that. >> i absolutely believe that. i've worked with consumers for a large part of my career. and what i've heard from particularly consumers who have gotten sick from the food that they eat is, they had no idea. and more and more consumers are becoming more and more aware of what they eat and how that food is produced. so i think there really is a sea change that's happening as a result of fooding, super-size me, a few of the other films that have been mentioned earlier in the program. >> so what's the next big battle? after this battle is done what is the next thing we should be looking to and saying, well, that shouldn't be in the food
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either. >> keep antibiotics moving, our coalition focuses on human body antibiotics not be used strongly in food production. i think the poultry industry is going to come to the table more quickly than the swine and cattle industry will but i think swine and cattle are coming too and i think there will be big changes in swine production in the united states around as well as cattle production. >> joieux aniversaire. give us feedback what you feel about the program. follow me and get in touch @ray @raysuareznews. we'll see you next time. i'm ray suarez.
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