The company said consumer interest in food sourcing and production led the company to ask its suppliers to work with the US Department of Agriculture to verify that no antibiotics were given to chickens at any point in production.
“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,” said Tim Tassopoulos, executive vice president of operations of Chick-fil- A. “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,” he added.
The move generated praise from Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union has lobbied retailers to stop selling meat and poultry products derived from animals that have been administered antibiotics.
Switching to antibiotic-free chicken isn't the first time Chick-fil-A has addressed consumer concerns about the ingredients used in its product offerings. The company announced plans to remove yellow dye from its chicken soup. Chick-fil-A is working toward removing high fructose corn syrup from its dressings and sauces, artificial ingredients from its buns and TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone, a preservative) from its peanut oil. In 2008, the company removed trans fats from all of its menu items and condiments.