Chick-fil-A will soon begin selling only antibiotics-free chicken. America’s largest fast food chicken retailer recently announced a five-year plan which chicken suppliers must strictly adhere to if they want the Atlanta-based business to serve their poultry in its 1,800 locations. Chick-fil-A is urging all current suppliers to work closely with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to verify their chicken has not been given antibiotics any time during the raising process.
Tim Tassopoulos, Chick-fil-A Executive Vice President of Operations, had this to say about going antibiotics-free:
“A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain – from the hatchery to the processing plant. Our suppliers are committed, and we pledge to have this conversion complete within five years or sooner based on supply chain readiness. Because this will take some time, we will begin posting quarterly updates on our website in 2015 after our initial phase-in. We want to make it easy for customers to monitor our progress.”
National Chicken Council Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Ashley Peterson responded to the Chick-fil-A antibiotics-free announcement by saying, “This is a business decision made by Chick-fil-A in response to consumer demand.” Peterson went on to state that many or the group’s member already offer antibiotic-free poultry options as a marketplace choice for customers. “We’re proud of our industry and how we produce a wide range of food for a wide range of consumers,” she added.
According to the National Chicken Council officer, all chicken production systems, both organic and “traditional” farming methods, which raise poultry without using antibiotics, seek to offer a safe, affordable, and wholesome food choice. She went on to note a plethora of chicken choices which appeal to different types of consumers. “The amazing variety of choice today allows consumers to choose products that take into account many factors, including taste preference, personal values and affordability,” Peterson said.
The chicken industry representative also said that antibiotics are “not always” used during the chicken production process. Sometimes the medication is administered by a licensed veterinarian to prevent or treat disease. “The science shows that responsible and judicious use of FDA-approved antibiotics to treat and prevent disease in livestock and poultry is both safe and effective,” the chicken council officer concluded.
The Chick-fil-A antibiotics-free chicken decision comes at a time when increased scrutiny over the use of antibiotics in the United States food supply is ongoing. Health officials began warning both the agriculture industry and consumers that over time, antibiotics use in the meat supply can lead to the growth of antibiotic resistant germs.
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