Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest meat processors, announced that it has begun “striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by the end of September 2017.” Tyson’s broiler farms, where chickens are raised for meat, already operate without antibiotics, and the company adopted antibiotic-free feed this year.
Amid the growing field of research suggesting the dangers associated with the use of human antibiotics to treat livestock — a practice which the FDA says is at an all-time high — companies like Perdue and McDonald’s have also recently committed to the phasing out of human antibiotics.
The move by McDonald’s in particular, which is one of the country’s largest buyers of chicken, was predicted to have a widespread effect on the rest of the poultry industry, evident in the new development from Tyson. In a press release, the company indicated that Tyson’s international business was taking similar measures to reduce antibiotic dependence, but had not set a deadline.
“Antibiotic resistant infections are a global health concern,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “We're confident our meat and poultry products are safe, but want to do our part to responsibly reduce human antibiotics on the farm so these medicines can continue working when they're needed to treat illness. Given the progress we've already made reducing antibiotics in our broilers, we believe it's realistic to shoot for zero by the end of our 2017 fiscal year.”
Later this year, Tyson Foods will also begin working with its suppliers to reduce the use of human antibiotics on cattle, hog, and turkey farms.