McDonald's meal

Last week, McDonald's Corporation announced its commitment to begin purchasing "verified sustainable beef" in 2016. Between now and then, the company plans to communicate with stakeholders from the farmer to the food counter worker to create environmentally friendly beef solutions, according to their new "Beef Sustainability" webpage.

The change can't happen overnight. McDonald's sells about 1 billion pounds of beef annually in its 14,000 U.S. locations, making adaptations to its beef supply a large undertaking. The volume of beef needed, along with competition from other restaurants also looking to purchase sustainably raised products, will no doubt make this a challenging task.

In addition, the company, along with the rest of the world, needs to define "sustainable." To do so, McDonald's has worked with the World Wildlife Fund, Elanco, Merck Animal Health, Walmart, beef suppliers Cargill and JBS, and others to create a Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. The group has drafted principles and practices for environmentally sound beef production and plans to further develop them this year while building relationships to purchase verified sustainable beef in the future.

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