SALISBURY, Md. – It’s about time. That’s the sentiment of at least one poultry company responding to the April 29 announcement by Tyson Foods, Inc. of its plans to eliminate the use of antibiotics used to treat humans in its US broiler chicken flocks by September 2017. Julie DeYoung, spokeswoman for Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue Farms is pleased to see Tyson follow her company’s lead.

“While we’re pleased to see that others are finally recognizing consumer concerns, Tyson and others in the industry continue to play catch-up with Perdue on this topic,” DeYoung said in an e-mail statement. She claimed that Tyson is committing to achieving its goal in 30 months and “they will be where we've been for quite some time. We did what Tyson is announcing back in 2007 (removed all human antibiotics from our feed). We followed it with antibiotic removal from all hatcheries in March 2014.”

Tyson’s commitment comes on the heels of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. announcing its plans to cut antibiotics used for human medicine throughout its hatcheries within 18 months and expand it to include its production facilities by the end of 2018.

“Pilgrim’s Pride announced that by 2019, four years from now, it would have 25 percent of its production in No Antibiotics Ever,” according to DeYoung. “Today, more than 50 percent of our chickens are already raised with no antibiotics ever. And when we say ‘no antibiotics ever,’ that’s what it means – no human antibiotics, no animal antibiotics, no hatchery antibiotics,” she said.

Donnie Smith, Tyson’s CEO and president insisted during an April 29 teleconference with the media that its initiative was not based on gaining a competitive advantage or use it as a marketing tool.

“This is not a marketing campaign,” Smith said. “We’re not doing this as a labeling approach.”

He added: “We think it is the right thing to do and it’s the most responsible way to balance this global health concern about antibiotic resistance with animal well-being.”