Chick-fil-A to serve antibiotic-free chicken

Fast food giant Chick-fil-A announced in a press release on Feb. 11 that it would phase out products containing antibiotics in a push toward a healthier menu. The company plans to use antibiotic-free chickens nationwide within the next five years. As a student of an online cooking school, you might be curious to know why your chicken sandwich will be healthier in the future.

Removing antibiotics
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what goes into their food, and most people are demanding protein free of antibiotics. Chick-fil-A says this is one of the reasons it will start using chickens without antibacterial agents. The company also mentioned it wants to maintain a high standard of food for its customers.

“Since our family business began 67 years ago, we have focused on our customers. It’s why we insist upon using the highest quality ingredients,” Dan Cathy, president and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, said in a statement. “We want to continue that heritage, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step.”

The process of phasing out antibiotic-fed chicken is estimated to take about five years because products have to be replaced in numerous steps. For example, hatcheries, farms and distributing centers all have to be inspected and certified as antibiotic free. Chick-fil-A plans to post quarterly updates on its progress starting in 2015.

National-wide removal
The Food and Drug Administration created a guideline document in December of 2013 as part of a voluntary program that helps companies phase out antibiotics. Animals are given food or water containing antibiotics to help them gain weight quickly. However, the FDA has acknowledged that using antibiotics in food could be harmful. If humans are continually exposed to antibacterial agents in the form of food, they could develop a resistance to it, which makes antibiotics ineffective for treating disease.

“We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them,” William Flynn, DVM, MS, deputy director for science policy at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down.”

The guidelines show companies how they can work with the FDA to phase out the use of antibiotic-fed animals.

Chick-fil-A and health
The fast food chain also mentioned that it has taken other measures to ensure its products are healthy. For example, Chick-fil-A is researching ways to remove high-fructose corn syrup from the menu while maintaining taste. It also removed yellow dye from chicken soup and is using buns without artificial ingredients.

Some believe because Chick-fil-A, an industry giant, is taking the step to remove antibiotics from its food that other companies will do the same.

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