Perdue Foods, the nation’s third largest producer of chicken products, has announced that it’s removing antibiotics from its Perdue chicken hatcheries.
The chicken producer has not used antibiotics for growth promotion since 2007, Perdue Foods said on its website, and the removal of antibiotics from its hatcheries now means most of its chicken products are antibiotic-free.
“ “We listened to our consumers and we are proud to have developed a responsible program that does not risk the medical effectiveness of antibiotics in human health, provides appropriate health care for animals and does not employ growth-promoting drugs,” said Chairman Jim Perdue in a statement.
According to the Perdue Foods website, the company does use an “animal-only antibiotic to control an intestinal parasite, and will use antibiotics to treat and control illness in sick flocks.”
Perdue Foods has been working for the last five years to remove antibiotics from its Perdue chicken hatcheries—part of a 12-year evolution in its approach to antibiotics, the company said. “No antibiotics in the hatchery exceeds the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) voluntary guidelines for antibiotic use in food animals, as well as the standards of the USDA Organic certification program.”
“By no longer using any antibiotics in our hatcheries or any human antibiotics in feed, we’ve reached the point where 95 percent of our chickens never receive any human antibiotics, and the remainder receive them only for a few days when prescribed by a veterinarian,” Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Live Operations for Perdue Foods said in a statement.
Jonathan Kaplan, Director, Food and Agriculture Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council applauded the move in a blog post.“That’s big news in an industry that has too often relied on a steady stream of antibiotics to keep birds growing fast and help them survive crowded, stressful, and unsanitary industrial farm conditions.”
“This very limited use of antibiotics is more restrictive than the new FDA Guidelines announced last December. We have yet to read any proposed legislation that we are not compliant with, and in fact, have been since 2008,” said Stewart-Brown.
While Perdue is a U.S. based brand, the news comes just as German supermarkets have demanded that the German Poultry Association stop allowing the use of genetically modified feed in egg and poultry meat production. No word yet if Perdue has any plans to phase out the use of GMOs in its chicken feed.
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