SALISBURY, Md. – Perdue Foods announced the company is limiting use of antibiotics in poultry production in response to growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In 2007, Perdue Farms launched Harvestland, the company's no-antibiotics-ever product line.

The company removed human antibiotics from feed, and will use an animal-only antibiotic to control an intestinal parasite. Perdue also will use antibiotics to treat and control illnesses in sick flocks. The company spent five years transitioning antibiotics out of its hatcheries.

“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,” said Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live operations.

Perdue began moving away from conventional use of antibiotics in chicken production in 2002, and successfully removed all human antibiotics in feed by 2007. The company launched the Harvestland brand, a no-antibiotics-ever product line.

“That was a major learning experience for us,” Stewart-Brown said. “No-antibiotics-ever was a very small part of the market, but it gave the opportunity to learn what it takes to successfully run such a program. And we took those learnings and applied them across our entire company.

“We also found that it is not realistic or responsible to eliminate all antibiotics,” he added. “No matter how carefully you raise animals, some are going to be exposed to infections that can only be treated with antibiotics. As veterinarians, we have a responsibility to properly treat those animals. But, when we do treat chickens with antibiotics, we do it in a very focused and limited way that allows us to treat a single house and for the shortest duration possible, generally no longer than three days.”