US poultry firm Perdue is increasing the amount of poultry it produces that has not been treated with antibiotics.
Perdue said it was in the process of making its entire frozen, refrigerated and fresh value-added chicken products and all of its foodservice turkey items to come under its under its “no antibiotics ever” label. The conversion would include pre-seasoned chicken items, such as retail nuggets, strips and grilled strips.
Eric Christianson, senior vice president of marketing and innovation, said that it would no longer be only some fresh items and niche brands that were antibiotic free, and that the move was a transformation of the market.
“In the retail sector, we’re converting all branded refrigerated and frozen convenience products to ‘no antibiotics ever’, bringing the total number of products with the claim to more than 200,” he said.
Perdue eliminated antibiotic use for growth promotion in 2007. The company said that two-thirds of its chickens were now raised without antibiotics, up from 50% six months ago, while more than half of its turkeys are raised with no antibiotics. The company produces 675m chickens and 8.4m turkeys each year.
Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production said: “We started our journey away from antibiotics 12 years ago, and it takes time to do it right. It’s not just taking antibiotics out, it’s learning how to raise healthy birds and prevent disease without antibiotics. Of course, should a flock get sick and require an antibiotic, we will treat the flock but it won’t be sold as 'no antibiotics ever'.”
“Consumers are demanding ‘no antibiotics ever’ products, and so too are the grocery stores, restaurants and cafeterias who serve those consumers,” said chairman Jim Perdue. “Our commitment to raise as many animals as possible with no antibiotics ever responds to that concern with clarity and transparency.”