(Adds comment by industry group on Perdue being first to cut
antibiotics from hatcheries, adds comment by advocate group )
By Lisa Baertlein
Sept 3 Perdue Foods said on Wednesday it has
stopped using antibiotics at its chicken hatcheries, completing
a five-year effort aimed at curbing the unnecessary use of
The action comes amid growing concern among public health
experts worldwide about the link between excessive antibiotic
use in animal agriculture and human infections from
antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or so-called superbugs that do
not respond to conventional medical treatment.
The National Chicken Council said the move makes Perdue the
first large U.S. chicken producer to end antibiotic use in all
hatcheries regardless of product line.
"By no longer using any antibiotics in our hatcheries or any
human antibiotics in feed, we've reached the point where 95
percent of our chickens never receive any human antibiotics,"
said Bruce Stewart-Brown, Perdue Foods' senior vice president of
food safety, quality and live operations.
Stewart-Brown added that Perdue's antibiotic-free hatchery
policy exceeds the Federal Drug Administration's voluntary
guidelines for antibiotic use in food animals, as well as the
standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic
Perdue said it does use an animal-only antibiotic to control
an intestinal parasite, and will use antibiotics to treat and
control illness in sick flocks.
Perdue, whose Harvestland brand features no-antibiotics-ever
products, said it does not use antibiotics for growth promotion
in its chicken production, and has not since 2007.
One public health advocacy group representing consumer,
health, agricultural and other interest groups said it approved
of Perdue's move. "The action in the hatcheries is particularly
important as antibiotic use there has been clearly linked to
resistance in the treated birds and to resistance in sick
humans," Keep Antibiotics Working (KAW) said in a statement.
KAW also encouraged Perdue to publicly report the amount and
type of antibiotics used in its poultry and encouraged other
companies to adopt a similar policy.
"I hope Perdue's actions foreshadow changes across the
industry, and embolden regulators to prohibit the misuse of
antibiotics in animal agriculture," said Caroline Smith DeWaal,
food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public
Perdue Farms, a division of family-owned Perdue Farms, of
Salisbury, Maryland, is fourth-largest U.S. producer of
ready-to-cook chicken after Tyson Foods Inc, Pilgrim's
Pride Corp and Sanderson Farms Inc, according
to the National Chicken Council.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Tom Polansek in
Chicago; editing by Matthew Lewis)