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Perdue to Stop Using Antibiotics in 95% of Chickens

September 3rd, 2014
Center for Food Safety

Center for Food Safety Challenges FDA to Issue Mandatory Regulation

Center for Food Safety (CFS) today expressed support for Perdue Food’s decision to end the use of antibiotics in hatcheries. The move comes as a result of growing concern among consumers and public health professionals about the overuse of antibiotics, which has led to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, CFS maintains that federally mandated action by the Food and Drug Administration is severely needed in order to fully curtail the problem and ensure the long-term effectiveness of vitally important antibiotics.

“The abuse of antibiotics in livestock production can no longer be ignored. By listening to consumers and the medical community, Perdue has taken a major step in safeguarding the effectiveness of antibiotics," said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. “We appreciate Perdue’s initiative, but they produce only 7 percent of the broilers produced in the U.S. Other companies should follow suit.”

“With this announcement, the pressure is now squarely on the shoulders of FDA to ensure all companies are following the recommendations of food safety and public health advocates. Stop the use of any non-therapeutic antibiotics in meat production once and for all,” said Tomaselli.

Perdue has stated that under the new policy, 95% of its chickens will be raised without antibiotics and that it will only use antibiotics for therapeutic reasons. Perdue is the third largest chicken producer in the United States, producing more than 625 million broilers each year, meaning a significant number of chickens will be now raised without antibiotics.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a serious public health concern, and the use of antibiotics in animal feed, particularly poultry, is a major source of the problem. A startling 30 million pounds of antibiotics are sold annually for animal agriculture, making up 80% of all antibiotics used in the U.S. The vast majority of antibiotic use in agriculture is used not to treat sick animals, but to promote weight gain in poultry and livestock, thereby allowing animal farm operations to produce animals for market faster and more cheaply. Despite increasing evidence that the overuse of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal feed can lead to resistant bacteria in human infections, the FDA has done little to address the issue.

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