McDonalds Sustainable Beef in Their HAMburgers from 2016

Sorry, I couldn’t help but crack that joke… which wasn’t funny but it’s done now.

After hearing about McDonald’s pledge to begin using verified sustainable beef by 2016 I was greeted with a mix of emotions. To begin with I thought, well what a nice idea but GOOD LUCK it’s not going to happen. When I really started to get my teeth into it and words like WWF and Farm Assurance popped up a small halo appeared above the golden arches in my mind. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration but I was impressed. And there was a larger than life Big Mac floating around to the side of the page which, I won’t lie, made me furious at McDonald’s for making me hungry. Joking aside, I loved this idea of sustainable beef…

But, I started to think, what is this doing for British beef and British farmers? There aren’t any British producers on the Members Board of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) who are working to put together a framework for best practices of sustainable beef, but solely American, Canadian and Australian producers. And, as pointed out by McDonalds themselves, it is a tough job creating such a framework as every country works with different ecosystems, breeds and processes! So I had a little look for this framework, but could I find it? No. Not only that but I wasn’t impressed by the GRSB website. For a company, supposedly leading the defining of sustainable beef I expected something a bit more professional. Or a link to the draft framework that McDonalds are so proud of. I suppose the UK hasn’t got the biggest beef industry, nothing like the size of American ranches but I was surprised to see that China (producing 11.6% of global beef) doesn’t have a representative on the board.

The McDonald’s website informs us that the GRSB began its work in 2011. So, 3 years its taken them to bring together these guidelines (which aren’t even the final product) and it’s going to be another 2 years until they just BEGIN to buy sustainable beef (of which they have defined themselves). I feel there is a severe lack of hard, solid goals for McDonalds to strive for and annoying consumers like me to feel reassured by. Nonetheless, I still admire McDonald’s for these lofty statements because passing a company-wide goal like that must have been a tricky job.

But, is this an example of sustainable fashion? We’ve seen company after company pledge to become greener, more efficient, more sustainable. So is this simply a glorified PR move? A way to make consumers (like me) feel better about ordering that big fat Big Mac.

As much as I hope McDonalds meets its goals, I really do (as a daughter of beef farmers) I can’t help but think it’s all about keeping up with the trend of sustainability and provenance. And that’s not a bad thing. If this is what consumers wants then please McDonalds, deliver!

I would love to hear your comments, no doubt there are some corrections needed so please, don’t hold back. As a consumer, this is what I think having used trusty old Google, and I can guarantee, that’s more than what the usual consumer will use.

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