Perdue Farms—one of the largest poultry producers in the US—says more than 200 retail and foodservice menu items are now being produced without the use of antibiotics, including all of the company’s turkey products.
The transition, announced at the 2016 Annual Meat Conference in Nashville, includes all Perdue brand heat-and-eat and pre-seasoned chicken items, such as retail nuggets, strips and grilled strips. Products will hit shelves this month, with the conversion continuing through May.
According to Perdue, two-thirds of the company’s chickens are now raised without any antibiotics of any kind, up from 50 percent six months ago. Though Perdue says raising turkeys without antibiotics is more challenging, the company has been able to convert more than half of its turkey population to be free of antibiotics. Perdue is raising chicken without antibiotics at nine of its processing complexes.
“The NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER distinction is very important to us,” says Jim Perdue, chairman. “That claim is transparent and absolutely clear to consumers: no antibiotics of any kind, at any time. Consumers have a number of concerns around antibiotic use, and they deserve products that address all those concerns with a promise they can trust. That's why we back up the NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER claim on PERDUE consumer chicken products with a USDA Process Verified Program.”
The increase in NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER chicken and turkey production marks a milestone in Perdue's progression away from antibiotic use. In 2014, Perdue became the first major chicken company to eliminate the routine use of all human antibiotics from every production step, proving that producers did not need to rely on antibiotics to raise healthy chickens. The company eliminated antibiotic use for growth promotion in 2007.