The company plans to eliminate use in 2017
Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest producers of chicken, announced on Tuesday that it plans to eliminate human antibiotics from its chicken flocks by the end of September 2017.
The move comes amid public health concerns over the over-use of antibiotics in farming and in humans, and how it can contribute to the growing global problem of antibiotic resistance.
“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,” Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods said in a statement issued by Tyson.
As Reuters reports, Tyson’s announcement comes after McDonald’s Corp outlined a deadline for its restaurants in the U.S. to eventually stop using chicken that’s raised with human antibiotics. Tyson told Reuters that their decision is part of its own an ongoing effort.
Tyson says it has already stopped using antibiotics in its 35 hatcheries for broilers—chickens raised for meat—and that since 2011 it’s cut the farm use of any antibiotics that are also used in humans by over 80%.
“This is some of the most exciting news I’ve heard on this issue in years,” Lance B. Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, said in a statement. “I’m also enthusiastic about Tyson’s commitment to developing strategies to reduce human antibiotics in cattle, hogs, and turkeys. However, as they form their strategic working groups, I hope that they’ll include representatives from the public health community. There are many of us ready to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the industry to protect antibiotics for human and animal medicine.”
Tyson’s announcement also comes after industry competitors made similar promises. Perdue Farms Inc. says the majority of its chickens are raised without antibiotics that are approved for use in humans, Reuters reports. Perdue is a supplier for the fast food chain Chick-fil-A, which has also given its suppliers a deadline to go antibiotic-free.