Subway roast beef sub sandwich
Subway will transition to proteins sourced from animals that have never been given antibiotics starting in 2016.

MILFORD, CONN. — Subway, the world’s largest quick-service restaurant chain, has moved to elevate its antibiotic-free policy. As part of the effort, the restaurant chain has committed to transition to serving only protein from animals that have never received antibiotics across all of its more than 27,000 U.S. restaurants in early 2016.

Beginning in March 2016, Subway will offer meals made with chicken raised without antibiotics. Turkey raised without antibiotics will be introduced in 2016, with a completed transition expected within two to three years, and pork and beef raised without antibiotics will follow within six years after that, the company said.

It is the latest step in Subway’s transition to a healthier, cleaner menu. In June, the company announced it would remove all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its sandwiches, salads, soups and cookies in North America by the end of 2017.

“Today’s consumer is ever more mindful of what they are eating, and we’ve been making changes to address what they are looking for,” said Dennis Clabby, executive vice-president of Subway’s Independent Purchasing Cooperative. “A change like this will take some time, particularly since the supply of beef raised without antibiotics in the U.S. is extremely limited, and cattle take significantly longer to raise. But, we are working diligently with our suppliers to make it happen.”

Given the size of Subway, Mr. Clabby called the commitment “the largest of its kind in the restaurant industry.”

“We hope that this commitment will encourage other companies in our industry to follow our lead, and that, together, this will drive suppliers to move faster to make these important changes for consumers,” he said.

Last month a survey found Panera, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s all have adopted publicly available policies that either limit the use of medically important antibiotics or prohibit any antibiotic use in the production of the meat they serve.