Investor network urges fast food giants to tackle bacteria threat

Fairr requests disclosures on preventing antimicrobial resistance

The $70trn-backed Fairr investor network is once again targeting engagement at fast food companies, asking them to disclose a set of information related to antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The engagement will target 12 US fast food restaurant companies, many with a global reach, including McDonalds, Yum! Brands (owners of KFC and Pizza Hut) and Restaurant Brands International (owners of Burger King).

Investors are asking these companies to disclose information around protein disclosure, antibiotics reduction targets and more as part of a framework it has created that is in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

AMR is where bacteria evolves so that antibiotics and other current treatments are no longer effective against infections. It is recognised as a problem by the UK government, which yesterday announced up to a £39m cash injection for AMR research through the Global AMR Innovation Fund.

It is particularly important in a food setting as “superbugs” developed in animal gut can spread through the food chain, and the WHO has also said inappropriate food handling encourages the spread.

The network is calling on investors to join its restaurant antibiotics engagement, opening it to further signatories following a period of consultation with Fairr investor members and external  experts. Investors have until 3 July 2023 to sign up.

Fairr has previously engaged with global restaurant companies on their antibiotic policies – its 2016-2019 engagement resulted in 19/20 companies disclosing publicly available antibiotic policies, up from one at the outset.

But Dr Emma Berntman, senior engagement specialist at the Fairr Initiative and lead on the new engagement, said progress has stalled.

“Investors are seeking to address the growing risk that AMR poses to the global economy, investment portfolios, and public health,” she added.

“Intensive livestock production is widely regarded as a key driver in the spread of antimicrobial resistance and this new engagement provides an opportunity for investors to engage constructively with these global brands to understand what constructive actions they are taking.”

The network has also been targeting fast food companies on their emissions targets. For this engagement on AMR, Fairr has said it will publish the first formal company assessments against its disclosure framework in Spring 2024.


Natasha Turner

Natasha was global editor at ESG Clarity, part of Mark Allen Financial, and a financial journalist for seven years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of the Year...