The decision to end the use of antibiotics is expected to cover all of the company’s branded chicken products and the NatureRaised Farms brand.
Tyson Foods is the second biggest poultry company in the world, slaughtering more than 2.3 billion birds per year. Perdue Farms, the fourth largest chicken producer in the US, is the first major poultry company to go antibiotic free.
Recent studies showed that the practice of injecting antibiotics to chickens have led to the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases. However, there are still companies that don’t want to abandon the use of antibiotics, including another giant poultry company Sanderson Farms.
“Certainly the conscious consumer today is holding us accountable,” said Tom Hayes, president of Tyson Foods.
David Palmer, a food analyst with RBC Capital, noted that “clean” food products have seen a six percent year-on-year sales increase.
But some remain skeptical that poultry companies in general are using fewer antibiotics because sales data don’t reflect that claim. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) antibiotics sales are not slowing down.
“You can say there were a million-and-a-half people at your inauguration, but when you look at the numbers it’s not supported,” said Gail Hansen, a veterinary scientist.