Perdue Foods Reaches Milestone in Reducing Antibiotic Use
Perdue Foods has announced that it has removed all antibiotics from its chicken hatcheries, another step in setting a standard that defines the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry farming. The Salisbury, Maryland, USA-headquartered company does not use antibiotics for growth promotion in its chicken production, and has not since 2007. It does use an animal-only antibiotic to control intestinal parasites, and will use antibiotics to treat and control illness in sick flocks.
“By no longer using any antibiotics in our hatcheries or any human antibiotics in feed, we’ve reached the point where 95% of our chickens never receive any human antibiotics, and the remainder receive them only for a few days when prescribed by a veterinarian,” said Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president in charge of food safety, quality and live operations.
Eliminating use in the hatchery has taken five years to fully implement, and is the latest stage of a 12-year evolution in the company’s approach to antibiotic use. No antibiotics in the hatchery exceeds the US Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) voluntary guidelines for antibiotic use in food animals, as well as the standards of the USDA Organic certification program.
“This very limited use of antibiotics is more restrictive than the new FDA Guidelines announced last December. We have yet to read any proposed legislation that we are not compliant with, and in fact, have been since 2008,” said Stewart-Brown.
“We listened to our consumers and we are proud to have developed a responsible program that does not risk the medical effectiveness of antibiotics in human health, provides appropriate health care for animals and does not employ growth-promoting drugs,” said Jim Perdue, the company’s chairman. “While treating illness is a responsible part of animal care, we believe human-approved antibiotics should not be used to boost production or used in place of responsible animal husbandry or hatchery management.”
“This is not something that you simply turn a switch to implement,” said Stewart-Brown. “Moving away from the conventional use of antibiotics in animal agriculture means more than taking human antibiotics out of your programs. You have to develop programs from breeder operations, through the hatchery and feed mill and onto the farm that are sustainable without that use. It takes a lot more effort with more stringent standards, but we believe this is what consumers expect from Perdue.”
Perdue Foods produces a wide variety branded chicken, turkey and pork products distributed through retail, foodservice and international customers. Its frozen offerings include whole grain breaded chicken and breast nuggets, IQF skinless chicken tenderloins, grilled chicken strips, chicken tenders, turkey meatballs and more.