Tyson Foods Inc., has announced on Tuesday that it intends to remove the use of human antibiotics in its chicken by September 2017. Tyson Foods is the largest poultry producer in the US.
This move aims to diminish the growing health concerns of the public regarding the drug-resistant bacteria. According to the company antibiotics may still be used for treating birds which become sick or only to prevent or treat animal maladies. Tyson Foods chief executive, Donnie Smith, declared that she believes this is the most responsible way to balance the health concerns all around the world and also the company’s commitment to the well-being of the animals.
One of the company’s aims is also to meet a deadline established by McDonald’s Corp, which in the next two years wants to gradually stop using chicken raised with human antibiotics. Although Tyson Foods is a key supplier for McDonald’s, the company says that their efforts are not dedicated to only one customer. The company also plans to establish working groups with independent farmers, veterinarians and company suppliers in order to discuss new ideas to how to cut the use of antibiotics in the turkey, beef and pork supply chains in the US.
This measure also indicates that the US food industry is seeking to address more profound problems such as the consumers’ concerns about what their food contains and if its production process is safe and ethical. Chipotle is another company which took steps in this direction. On Sunday the company announced that they stopped using genetically modified ingredients in their foods.
It seems that Tyson Foods has already stopped the use of antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries and since 2011 it has also cut the human antibiotics used for the treatment of its broiler chicken by over 80%. Donnie Smith remarked:
“Given the progress we’ve already made reducing antibiotics in our broilers, we believe it’s realistic to shoot for zero by the end of our 2016 fiscal year.”
Other rival poultry producers have also taken similar measures. The second –largest chicken processor in the US after Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp, plans to remove all antibiotics from a quarter of its chicken by 2019. The company also intends to eliminate all the antibiotics used in human health from its broiler flocks and hatcheries. Another large US chicken processor, Perdue Farms Inc., has stopped using all antibiotic types in half of the chicken it sells. According to the company 95% of their chicken never receives human antibiotics.
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