The country’s biggest producer of poultry, Tyson Foods, is vowing that the chickens the company uses will no longer be fed with antibiotics used in human medicine. For several years, farmers that raise the cattle, chickens, and pigs have used antibiotics in the feed, and it supposedly helped grow more animals at a cheaper price.
Tyson Foods saying no more human antibiotics in the feed is a very strong sign for the poultry industry, with more and more companies deciding that antibiotics used in human medicine is not good for the livestock, and also not good for human consumption. The issue that has caused controversy in recent years is due to the strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is actually being seen in humans. Although it was thought that the antibiotic resistance would stay with animals that are fed with antibiotics, now there are growing concerns that this resistance in animals will be transferred to the human population.
Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride have both announced in recent years that the amount of antibiotics used in their products will be significantly cut back, and it appears more of the poultry industry is ready to cut out the antibiotic use.
Donnie Smith, the CEO of Tyson Foods stated that by September 2017, the company expects it will eliminate all use of antibiotics that are in human medicine. Smith was quick to say though that it doesn’t mean that the human medicine antibiotics won’t ever be used again, just that the company does not foresee using human antibiotics. Although, Tyson Foods will still be using antibiotics regularly, but the type of antibiotics that will be used is called ionophores, which is not part of the antibiotics that are available to humans. Since ionophores are not used in human medicine, no one cares if the bacteria suddenly develops a resistance to it, as only the antibiotics that are used for humans are an issue.
Smith also said that Tyson Foods has already reduced the antibiotics that are found in human medicine by 80 percent in just the past four years, and now over 90 percent of the chickens do not consume the human antibiotics at all. Perdue called out Tyson Foods on the move, since it is a competitor, mocking Tyson Foods because Perdue had eliminated the use of human antibiotics over a year ago. Perdue also said that the company does not even use the ionophores that Tyson Foods is vowing to use, saying that the chicken coming from Perdue is completely antibiotic-free.
Other farmers are still falling behind when it comes to cutting out the human antibiotic use in feed, including the turkey and beef farmers. The critics have applauded Tyson Foods for making this decision, hoping that it will spur the other types of meat producers to start doing the same thing, noting that it does not harm the industry by removing the human antibiotics. Since Tyson Foods is the biggest out of them all, the hope is that more companies will finally get rid of the human antibiotics, although no antibiotics at all would be even better.
Tyson Foods is actually one of the biggest chicken suppliers for McDonald’s, which last month also announced that within two years all restaurants in America will be human antibiotic free. So it seems like since McDonald’s wanted to stray away from the antibiotics used in human medicine, it gave Tyson a choice of either jumping on board or losing the huge deal between the two companies. It’s unclear if any other restaurants are also moving in this direction or what impact Tyson Foods choosing to go antibiotic-free does to the other competitors that have not yet made the move.
A lot of people have been calling on all poultry and meat producers to eliminate the human antibiotics in their feeds, due to the real threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria making way to the human population. The sooner that these companies give up the antibiotics that are used in human medicine, the better the chances of the bacteria not ending up antibiotic-resistant on a bigger scale.