SPRINGDALE, ARK. — Tyson Foods Inc. said it no longer uses antibiotics at the company’s 35 hatcheries as of Oct. 1. Tyson is the latest major food company to reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics in livestock production. Perdue Foods announced in September that the company is limiting use of antibiotics in poultry production in response to growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Tyson detailed its position on antibiotics use in a post to the company’s web site, explaining when antibiotics are used on chickens, cattle and hogs. The company has been working since 2011 to reduce the use of antibiotics used in human medicine in its chicken operations.
“Tyson Foods veterinarians, researchers and hatchery managers successfully developed and tested new protocols that will enable us to discontinue the use of antibiotics in our hatcheries,” the company stated. “As of Oct. 1, 2014, we no longer use antibiotics at our 35 Tyson Foods hatcheries. Since the antibiotic typically used in hatcheries is important to human health, this is a significant first step toward our goal of reducing the use of antibiotics that are also used in human medicine.”
Tyson said it sometimes uses antibiotics that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but only when prescribed by a veterinarian to treat or prevent disease, the company noted. The company said that the “vast majority of antibiotics used to raise our chickens are never used in humans, and we continue to research alternative treatments and protocols that will eventually eliminate the application of antibiotics used in human medicine from poultry feed.”
Tyson noted the company does not control the veterinary care of cattle and hogs supplied by independent farmers who work with Tyson. But antibiotics used in the company’s beef, pork and chicken are F.D.A. approved, and F.D.A.-approved withdrawal periods are followed.
“While we don’t control the veterinary care of these animals, we work with farmers and livestock industry groups to make sure antibiotics are used responsibly,” the company said. “In fact, many of the livestock producers that supply our company have a veterinarian on staff.”Tyson added the company offers meat and poultry products sourced from animals that have never been given antibiotics under the NatureRaised Farms brand of chicken and Open Prairie Natural Angus brand of beef.