Today, Perdue announced something big about their chicken flocks: more than half of its chickens are now being raised without any antibiotics of any kind. They have achieved this less than a year after eliminating the routine use of human antibiotics in their chicken production.
Due to increasing consumer pressure to reduce overall antibiotics use, "We completely eliminated the [use of antibiotics for growth promotion] in September of 2014, and have improved the way we raise chickens so that 96% of our flocks never require treatment with a human antibiotic," explainedBruce Stewart Brown, DVM, Perdue's senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production. "However, we didn't stop there. We're going to continue to reduce our use of animal-only antibiotics, so that we're raising as many chickens as we can with no antibiotics of any kind – and offering that choice to consumers.”
Above all else, this achievement proves that raising animals with limited antibiotics is not only good—it’s viable. It shows that raising healthy chickens, ones that don’t need antibiotics, can be done on a large scale. And not sometime in the future, in theory. It can be done now. It is being done now!
The rise in drug-resistant bacteria has been tied to antibiotics overuse in factory farming for years. Already, 23,000 Americans die every year from resistant infections, and that number is projected to rise dramatically as we approach an era in which antibiotics fail. So, we need to act immediately to stop the practices driving us towards this post-antibiotic era.
I applaud Perdue for their achievement and leadership on the issue of stopping antibiotic misuse in factory farming and helping preserve antibiotics. Hopefully, others such as Tyson, which announced in March that they would phase our human antibiotics from their chicken production, will follow suit.