Chick-fil-A to go antibiotic-free

by Monica Watrous
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ATLANTA — Chick-fil-A, Inc. has announced plans to serve antibiotic-free chicken in all of its restaurants within five years.

The chicken chain said it is partnering with national and regional poultry suppliers to build a supply of chickens raised without antibiotics to meet its sales volume. Chick-fil-A is asking suppliers to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to verify no antibiotics are administered.

“A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain – from the hatchery to the processing plant,” said Tim Tassopoulos, executive vice-president of operations of Chick-fil-A. “Our suppliers are committed, and we pledge to have this conversion complete within five years or sooner based on supply chain readiness.”

The company will post quarterly updates on its web site, www.chick-fil-a.com, beginning in 2015.

“We want to make it easy for customers to monitor our progress,” Mr. Tassapoulos said.

Antibiotics are commonly used in food-producing animals to prevent, control and treat disease, and to promote growth, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that its use may lead to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Signaling the first time a quick-service chain has committed to a 100% antibiotic-free standard for its poultry, the move follows Chick-fil-A’s announcement last year that it had removed yellow dye from its chicken soup and is testing the removal of high-fructose corn syrup from all of its dressings and sauces, artificial ingredients from its buns, and tert-Butylhydroquinone, an artificial preservative, from its peanut oil. The company’s chicken is 100% pure breast meat with no fillers, additives, hormones or steroids.

Chick-fil-A also has worked to improve the nutritional profile of its products by removing trans fat from all menu items and condiments in 2008 and reducing sodium in its chargrilled chicken filet, bread and dressings and sauces. The restaurant also last year unveiled new better-for-you options, including salads and a wrap, and added calorie counts to its menu boards nationwide.
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