Contact: Kyle Kempf, Green Century Capital Management, firstname.lastname@example.org, (617) 482-0800
September 24, 2018
ORLANDO, September 24, 2018 – At its annual shareholder meeting last week, Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI), the largest casual dining operator in the U.S. and Canada and owner of Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, faced pressure from shareholders for a third year in a row to reduce the use of medically-important human antibiotics in its meat supply chain.
Green Century’s proposal received 40.2%1 of shareholder support, representing a vote increase over each of the previous two years and demonstrating the growing consensus among investors that antibiotic misuse represents a growing risk to corporate meat supply chains.
“The needless overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is literally killing people,” said Jared Fernandez, Shareholder Advocate with Green Century. “We don’t try to prevent illness in humans by giving them routine treatments of antibiotics, so why would we give them to livestock? If we don’t stop, the drugs that have been the cornerstone of modern medicine are going to become ineffective and the problem is going to get worse.”
Antibiotic resistant bacteria sicken 2 million people and kill at least 23,000 annually in the U.S. About 70% of medically important antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for use in livestock, predominantly for prophylactic purposes. The misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture for disease prevention makes it more likely that bacteria resistant to these drugs will flourish and spread, moving through air, waste, water, and workers, potentially infecting people regardless of one’s meat consumption.
Darden currently allows for the use of medically-important human antibiotics for the prevention of disease, rather than solely for the treatment of disease, in its supply chain. This practice lags behind the majority of major restaurant chains in the U.S., including McDonald’s,* KFC,* Chipotle,* Panera,* and many others.
Since Darden lacks a policy in line with its industry peers, Green Century’s proposal asked that the company report to shareholders on the feasibility of adopting a policy to eliminate the routine uses of antibiotics important to human medicine from its supply chain.
The failure to eliminate these medically-important antibiotics, or even report on the feasibility of doing so, exposes Darden to a number of business risks, especially those related to changing consumer preferences, reputational damage, competitive pressure, and strengthening regulation.
About Green Century Capital Management
Green Century offers three environmentally and socially responsible mutual funds. Through fossil fuel free investing and our three-pronged approach of sustainable investing, active shareholder advocacy, and support of environmental and public health non-profits we work to curb climate change, improve environmental policies, and limit environmental impacts of company supply chains.
*As of June 30, 2018, Darden Restaurants, Inc. and McDonalds Corporation comprised 0.00%, 0.12%, and 0.00% and 0.00%, 1.17%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund, respectively. Other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios as of June 30, 2018. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
1 The percentage in favor was calculated by (i) dividing the number of votes in support of the proposal by (ii) the sum of the number of votes voted in support of and against the proposal. Abstentions and broker non-votes were not included in the calculation.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 9/18