Tyson Foods decided, in response to consumer demands, to raise its fresh chickens without antibiotics. “It’s big news when the largest chicken producer in the country uses an antibiotic-free label to gain a competitive advantage,” according to David Wallinga, M.D., director of the Food and Health Program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70%
of all antibiotics used in the U.S., nearly 25 million pounds annually, are used
as feed additives for chicken, pigs, and beef cattle. A Johns Hopkins University
study released in January showed that the use of growth-promoting antibiotics in
chicken feed slightly accelerated chicken growth, but that the benefit was
offset by the cost of purchasing antibiotics, with the total cost rising by
about one penny per chicken.
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