Tyson Foods Latest Chicken Producer to Pull Antibiotics from All Hatcheries

tyson foods

Just a month after Perdue Foods announced it was removing antibiotics from its chicken hatcheries, Tyson Foods says that effective October 1, it’s also no longer using antibiotics in its 35 chicken hatcheries.

Tyson Foods is the second largest producer of chicken, beef, and pork in the world, and one of the 100 largest companies in the U.S. with annual sales (as of 2011) at $32 billion.

In a statement released by Tyson Foods, the company said that the move to remove antibiotics from its hatcheries “is a significant first step toward our goal of reducing the use of antibiotics that are also used in human medicine,” calling the antibiotics fed to its chickens “important to human health.” The company also claims that the “vast majority” of the antibiotics it currently uses on its animals are not those approved for use in humans.

Tyson said that it uses antibiotics when veterinary care calls for it. “While we don’t control the veterinary care of these animals, we work with farmers and livestock industry groups to make sure antibiotics are used responsibly,” the company said. “In fact, many of the livestock producers that supply our company have a veterinarian on staff.”

Food Safety News reports that Tyson Foods claims it’s researching “alternative treatments and protocols that will eventually eliminate the application of any antibiotics used in human medicine from poultry feed.”

Last month, Perdue Foods announced the removal of antibiotics from its chicken hatcheries, a move the company said makes its chicken “95 percent antibiotic-free.”

Antibiotics in livestock feed are commonly used to promote rapid growth enhancement. They have also been linked to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, “superbugs”, and infections in humans that don’t respond to conventional antibiotic treatments. The World Health Organization has urged countries to take action against these bacteria, calling the situation the ‘post-antibiotic era.’

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Image: Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.