Perdue Farms has reached its No Antibiotics Ever goal for chicken production, as the company has announced it has completed the final step towards eliminating all use of animal-only antibiotics. The company has eliminated the use of an antibiotic called ionophore, which is usually mixed into chicken’s feed to stop intestinal illness.
“Stopping the routine use of human antibiotics was a big step, and addresses pressing concerns in the medical community,” said Chairman Jim Perdue. “But it didn’t answer the basic consumer question: was this chicken raised with antibiotics? ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ is the only claim we promote to consumers, because it answers all their questions with clarity and transparency. Some of our competitors are promising to reduce antibiotics, and others are trying to tell consumers it doesn’t matter, but our consumers have already told us they want chicken raised without any antibiotics.”
Perdue first stopped giving its chicken antibiotics that were used in human medicine two years ago, according to a recent press release. This move will also allow the company to answer consumer demand while simultaneously increasing availability of the products.
Perdue stated that this move will raise the percentage of chicken with No Antibiotics Ever from 67 to 95 percent.
“Through our experience raising no-antibiotics-ever chickens for almost a decade and exposure to organic production, we’ve learned to prevent diseases without antibiotics,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, Senior Vice President of Food Safety, Quality, and Live Production. “If you can raise healthy chickens without routinely using antibiotics, why rely on them?”
The company’s veterinarians prescribe an antibiotic treatment for an average of 5% of the company’s flock, and limits treatment only to what is appropriate. The company stated that chickens treated with any antibiotic are removed from its No Antibiotics program and sold through other channels.
“Consumers want us to raise chickens in a way that doesn’t use antibiotics except if the chickens are sick and need veterinary care,” said Stewart-Brown. “We will never withhold an appropriate treatment.”
This announcement is in line with Perdue’s Commitments to Animal Care, which the company says extends beyond industry welfare guidelines. Perdue’s program is based on the Five Freedoms, a global standard for welfare to reduce animal stress and suffering.
The company also stated that the scale and commitment of Perdue has allowed it to answer consumer demand for changes in food production, and gives the buyer choice in the marketplace.
As consumer initiatives continue to spur companies towards new responsibilities and commitments, Deli Market News will have the latest.