Chick-fil-A announced in February the company’s plan to serve chicken raised without antibiotics in all the chain’s restaurants nationwide within five years.
Chick-fil-A consumer research indicated an interest in how food was made and where it is sourced, with particular interest in the use of antibiotics. As a result, the company has committed to partnering only with suppliers that raise chickens without antibiotics and requested that they work with the USDA to verify that none of the drugs were administered at any point.
“A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain – from the hatchery to the processing plant. Our suppliers are committed, and we pledge to have this conversion complete within five years or sooner based on supply chain readiness,” said Tim Tassopoulos, executive vice president of operations of Chick-fil-A. He added, “Because this will take some time, we will begin posting quarterly updates on our website in 2015 after our initial phase-in. We want to make it easy for customers to monitor our progress.”
“Transparency in our food is important to our customers, and it’s important to us too,” said Dan Cathy, president and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, which operates nearly 1,800 restaurants in 39 states. “Since our family business began 67 years ago, we have focused on our customers… insisting on using the highest quality ingredients, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step.”
Antibiotics are not only used in livestock to prevent disease in the animal, but also to grow them more quickly. In 2011, about 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for meat and poultry production, according to CNN. By comparison, 7.7 million pounds were sold for human use, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that antibiotics in livestock are contributing to the rise of dangerous bacteria. Many of the antibiotics that farmers give to animals are also used to treat sick humans. This overuse of antibiotics is leading to resistant strains of bacteria.
The FDA announced a plan in December to phase out certain antibiotics in the food production industry.