Photo: ITamar K.
Perdue Farms, the third largest poultry producer in the United States, announced Wednesday that it’s raising 95 percent of its birds without antibiotics that are important to human medicine.
When antibiotics are given to the chickens day after day, some bacteria become resistant, multiply, and spread to the environment and through the food system. Human and livestock use of antibiotics is contributing to the rising problem of antibiotic resistance – now among the top five health threats facing the nation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“While treating illness is a responsible part of animal care, we believe human-approved antibiotics should not be used to boost production or in place of responsible animal husbandry or hatchery management,” said Jim Perdue, company chairman.
The change is big news in an industry that has too often relied on a steady stream of antibiotics to keep birds growing fast and help them survive crowded, stressful, and unsanitary industrial farm conditions, said Jonathan Kaplan, blogger for the Natural Resources Defense Council.