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|Perdue Farms founder Frank Perdue.|
After my last post, How most chicken and beef are raised, a Perdue spokesman commented on whether the company uses antibiotics to promote growth. Here is Perdue's position statement on antibiotics from its Web site:
"We recognize concerns about the use of antibiotics in animal production, even though the science linking antibiotic use in animal production is still under debate.
"Perdue does not use antibiotics for growth promotion and administers them only when necessary for the health of our birds.
"As a result of our emphasis on providing a healthy environment for our birds, we do not need to rely on the continuous use of antibiotics to keep our birds healthy. However, in keeping with our commitment to poultry welfare and to providing wholesome products, our company's team of veterinarians, who are board-certified by the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, may prescribe antibiotics when medically appropriate. These antibiotics are used in stringent accordance with FDA and USDA guidelines and only under the guidance of one of our veterinarians.
"To treat intestinal illness in chickens, we may also administer ionophores when medically appropriate. Ionophores are a type of antibiotic not used in human medicine and are not linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance in humans. The FDA and USDA have approved this use of ionophores."
The key phrase here is "continuous use of antibiotics."
That's why you don't see an antibiotics-free claim on Perdue packaging. But other producers, including Readington Farms, a brand sold at ShopRite, state explicitly that no antibiotics are used to raise its chickens.