Foster Farms Makes Huge Move Away from Antibiotics in Chicken

Foster Farms Makes Huge Move Away from Antibiotics in Chicken

Foster Farms is the latest chicken producer to announce a move away from human-use antibiotics in chicken production, the company announced this week.

The company will also launch two new chicken products at major retailers throughout the West: Foster Farms Certified Organic and Foster Farms Simply Raised antibiotic-free chicken. By USDA definition, certified organic products cannot contain antibiotics.

“Our company is committed to responsible growing practices that help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for human health and medicine,” Ron Foster, CEO and President of Foster Farms said in a statement. “We take a holistic approach to antibiotic stewardship. Our goal has been three-fold: reduce the need for medical treatment by advancing bird health; choose animal-only antibiotics when needed for conventional flocks; and increase antibiotic-free production. Our progress can be seen in local supermarkets today. West Coast consumers now have greater access to locally grown organic and antibiotic-free chicken.”

The company has come under fire recently for issues surrounding the quality and safety of its chicken products linked to a 2013 outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella in its chicken.

Foster Farms’ decision to stop using antibiotics in chicken mirrors similar announcements from Tyson Foods and Perdue, the nation’s leading chicken producers, who have both recently begun executing plans to move away from human antibiotics in chicken, except when medically necessary.

Antibiotics are typically used in livestock feed to prevent the spread of illnesses and enhance the growth of animals, a side effect of the drugs. But their connection to human health issues have been cause for concern.

According to Reuters, “Public health experts and federal regulators have grown increasingly concerned that [antibiotic] use could create a health hazard by spurring the creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in humans.”

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Chicken image via Shutterstock