Big-Time Chicken Producer Ditching Human Antibiotics

Tyson Foods will largely eliminate their use in chickens by 2017
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2015 7:54 AM CDT
Big-Time Chicken Producer Ditching Human Antibiotics
In this May 3, 2009, file photo, Tyson Foods chicken products are displayed on the shelves of a Little Rock, Ark., grocery store.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

Another victory for those calling for antibiotics to be eliminated from our food chain: By 2017, Tyson Foods will have largely eliminated human antibiotic use in its chickens. "Antibiotic-resistant infections are a global health concern," says the CEO in a statement. "We're confident our meat and poultry products are safe, but want to do our part to responsibly reduce human antibiotics on the farm so these medicines can continue working when they're needed to treat illness." Some quick reactions:

  • NPR: "It's the most dramatic sign so far of a major shift by the poultry industry. The speed with which chicken producers have turned away from antibiotics, in fact, has surprised some of the industry's longtime critics."
  • Keep Antibiotics Working campaign: "Why are the turkey, pork, and beef industries lagging so far behind?"
  • CNNMoney notes that one food safety expert at the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the move is not enough and that a ban on antibiotic use in agriculture is needed.

The move comes shortly after McDonald's—one of Tyson's largest clients—announced that within two years, it will no longer use chickens treated with human antibiotics. Tyson, one of the biggest meat producers in the US, had already been taking steps to remove human antibiotics from its chicken production, the New York Times reports, and many speculated at that point the company would take the final steps. Perdue and Pilgrim's Pride have made similar moves, Reuters reports, meaning that now the top three chicken producers in the US are all on the road toward eliminating antibiotics. Tyson may still use human antibiotics on chickens in the future if absolutely necessary, but any such use would be publicly disclosed. (More Tyson Foods stories.)

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