The US poultry business, Perdue Foods, says it has become the “first major chicken company” to eliminate the routine use of all antibiotics.
The company has announced that it completed the final step away from the routine use of any antibiotics in its chicken production just two years after claiming to be the first major poultry company to stop routinely giving its chickens antibiotics which are also used in human medicine.
“Stopping the routine use of human antibiotics was a big step,” said company 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.”
He then turned up the heat of other production businesses by adding: “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.”
The company added that its latest move meant the percentage of chickens Perdue raises with no antibiotics “ever” is now 95%, up from 67% earlier this year.
“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 Perdue’s senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production, Bruce Stewart-Brown. “We will never therefore withhold an appropriate treatment.”
As a result, he added, Perdue veterinarians prescribe an antibiotic treatment for about 5% of the company’s flocks on average, with treatment being limited to only what is appropriate to the condition affecting a flock. Those chickens are then removed from the company’s no-antibiotics-ever programme and sold through other channels.