Darden Restaurants

FAIRR Commentary

Darden has an overarching policy on antibiotics (adopted in 2017) that is limited to FDA Guidance, which currently advises against use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion purposes. The company has been subject to multiple shareholder resolutions over the years to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in their meat supply chains. In 2018, the company’s third shareholder resolution on the issue received a vote of 40.2%, which is considered to be the second highest vote to date received in the U.S. for a shareholder proposal on antibiotics. Some of the company’s suppliers, including Sanderson Farms, have now adopted antibiotics stewardship policies after sustained campaigns from investors and civil society groups.

As a result of increased investor pressure, the company updated their policy at the end of March 2019 to include species-specific guidance on chicken. Darden has announced a commitment to phase out medically important antibiotics from its chicken supply by 2023. As part of this update, the company also indicated that it will be defining relevant metrics in 2020 in order to track progress.

FAIRR Recommendations

We are encouraged by Darden’s commitment to antibiotics stewardship. However, we would encourage Darden to continue strengthening their programme by:

  • Extend their policy to cover all relevant animal-derived proteins where antibiotics are prevalent
  • Extend their policy to cover all relevant markets in which it operates in.
  • Extending the scope of their policy to go beyond medically important antibiotics in order to phase out the routine use of all antibiotics and/ or only use antibiotics when there is a disease present and administered by a veterinarian.
  • Commit to third-party audits across all relevant markets and species to ensure compliance.
  • Report more comprehensively and publicly on implementation progress including antibiotics use.

Company Comment

No information provided

See the company’s response to the engagement here.