September 25, 2014

A Good Step by Perdue Chicken

Keeve Nachman

Keeve Nachman

Program Director, Food Production and Public Health

Center for a Livable Future

640px-Chickens_feedingOn September 10 I wrote a blogpost in which I questioned language used by Perdue Chicken in their announcement about removing antibiotics from hatcheries and removing “human antibiotics” from feed. My main question concerned whether the company would be refraining from using drugs used for humans, or classes of drugs used for humans. This is an important distinction when talking about antibiotic resistance, and the answer I was hoping to hear is that Perdue was swearing off entire classes of drugs used for humans.

Yesterday I was contacted by Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Live Operations for Perdue Foods, who gave me the answer I was hoping for. Here’s an excerpt from his email, which he has given me permission to reprint:

We do not use the classes of drugs that are used in human medicine in our feed, and have not since 2007. … [S]ince 2007 feed for our chickens hasn’t contained virginiamycin or bacitracin or any other antibiotic products with human approvals (not them or their relatives). We may use an animal-only antibiotic, an ionophore, to control an intestinal parasite. We will use antibiotics to treat and control illness in sick flocks, choosing those with the least importance to human medicine that will be effective for the target disease, and administering it in a targeted way for a limited duration. We currently treat fewer than 5 percent of our flocks.  We also offer no-antibiotics-ever and organic products.

I’d say this is good news, and I applaud Perdue not only for their decision, but also for their candor and transparency on this issue.

Image by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. Used under Creative Commons BY-NC license.

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