SALISBURY, Md. – Perdue Farms announced the final step in the elimination of all antibiotics in the company’s chicken production complete with the removal of animal-only antibiotics. This after Perdue became the first major poultry provider to eliminate antibiotics used in human medicine from its chicken production two years ago.
“Stopping the routine use of human antibiotics was a big step, and addresses pressing concerns in the medical community,” Chairman Jim Perdue said in a statement. “But it didn’t answer the basic consumer question: was this chicken raised with antibiotics? ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ is the only claim we promote to consumers, because it answers all their questions with clarity and transparency. Some of our competitors are promising to reduce antibiotics, and others are trying to tell consumers it doesn’t matter, but our consumers have already told us they want chicken raised without any antibiotics.”
Perdue went on to say, “Consumers are asking for changes in the way their food is raised, and it takes commitment and scale of a company our size to give consumers real choice in the marketplace.”
Typically, animal-only antibiotics, also known as ionophores, get mixed into the feed as a preventative measure for common intestinal illnesses.
“Through our experience raising no-antibiotics-ever chickens for almost a decade and exposure to organic production, we’ve learned to prevent diseases without antibiotics,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production. “If you can raise healthy chickens without routinely using antibiotics, why rely on them?”
The percentage of Perdue chickens raised with no antibiotics ever is now 95 percent, up from 67 percent reported earlier this year.
“Consumers want us to raise chickens in a way that doesn’t use antibiotics except if the chickens are sick and need veterinary care,” said Stewart-Brown. “We will never withhold an appropriate treatment.”
When Perdue veterinarians do prescribe an antibiotic treatment (roughly 5 percent of the company’s flock on average), it is limited to only what is appropriate. Those chickens are then removed from the no antibiotics-ever flock and sold through other channels.
In support of antibiotic-free production, Perdue has also committed to animal welfare through its animal husbandry practices based on the globally recognized standard of the Five Freedoms. The Five Freedoms include freedom to express normal behavior, freedom from pain injury and disease, freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from fear and distress, and freedom from discomfort.