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Perdue reduces use of antibiotics as it reaches milestone

Perdue Foods has announced that it has removed all antibiotics from its chicken hatcheries, another step in setting a standard that defines the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry production.

Perdue Foods recently announced that it has removed all antibiotics from its chicken hatcheries, another step in setting a standard that defines the responsible use of antibiotics in poultry production.

Perdue does not use antibiotics for growth promotion in its chicken production, and has not since 2007.  The company does use an animal-only antibiotic to control an intestinal parasite, and will use antibiotics to treat and control illness in sick flocks. Perdue Foods started the move away from conventional antibiotic use in 2002, in response to growing consumer concern and our own questions about the practice.

"By no longer using any antibiotics in our hatcheries or any human antibiotics in feed, we've reached the point where 95% of our chickens never receive any human antibiotics, and the remainder receive them only for a few days when prescribed by a veterinarian," said Dr Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Live Operations for Perdue Foods.

Eliminating use in the hatchery has taken five years to fully implement, and is the latest stage of a 12-year evolution in the company's approach to antibiotic use. No antibiotics in the hatchery exceeds the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) voluntary guidelines for antibiotic use in food animals, as well as the standards of the USDA Organic certification programme.

"We listened to our consumers and we are proud to have developed a responsible programme that does not risk the medical effectiveness of antibiotics in human health, provides appropriate health care for animals and does not employ growth-promoting drugs," said Chairman Jim Perdue.

Along the way, Perdue Foods was among the first to phase out the use arsenic in chicken feed – well before its market withdrawal. "Again, we saw that consumers were becoming concerned about the practice," said Dr Stewart-Brown. "But we found that, through improved flock health programmes and housing environments, we are able to produce healthy chickens without it."

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