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2015-07-08

Antibiotics Position Statement


We have long recognized public concern over the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. We are proud of our role as a leader in reducing antibiotic use, and in offering no-antibiotics-ever choices. For consumers who want chickens raised with no antibiotics of any kind, and want that choice now, we are committed to offering consumers the clarity, transparency and assurance that only comes from “No Antibiotics Ever.” This standard addresses concerns over the use of human antibiotics in poultry production, and addresses consumers’ desires for us to raise healthy animals without the routine use of antibiotics. 

We believe that any responsible company should limit the use of human antibiotics in animal agriculture to only when necessary for compassionate treatment. While many others are promising future action, we led all other major poultry companies by eliminating the routine use of all human antibiotics in our chicken production in 2014. That includes both in the hatchery and on the farm. We are now focused on reducing the use of animal-only antibiotics. This, we feel, is the best way to address consumer questions about how their food is produced. 

At the same time, we recognize that many of our stakeholders want specific information, so we are proud to report the following:

  • The percentage of flocks that received a human antibiotic for compassionate disease treatment dropped from five percent of our total to four percent. Those targeted treatments were typically for three days or less. In those rare instances, our veterinarians prescribe the antibiotic that has the least importance in human health, yet is effective in treating the flock. 
  • In the past year, the percentage of our chicken flocks receiving animal-only antibiotics dropped from 60% to 42%. That means 52% of our chickens are now raised with no antibiotics of any kind.
  • All of the pork we sell is raised with no antibiotics ever, and our beef is sourced from animals that were never treated with antibiotics. 
  • We continue to increase the percentage of no-antibiotics-ever turkey flocks, and to reduce antibiotic use in all of our turkey flocks. We are not as far along in the evolution of our turkey program, but continue to make progress.
  • As part of our commitment to animal welfare, we will not withhold appropriate medical treatment. In the event antibiotics are required for compassionate care, those animals will be removed from the no-antibiotics-ever program and sold through other channels. Less than five percent of chickens and hogs ever receive a human antibiotic. If antibiotics are used, federally mandated withdrawal periods ensure the meat is free of antibiotic residue as defined by the USDA.

 

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