Target: Perdue Farms CEO, Jim Perdue
Goal: Applaud major chicken processing company for converting all of its hatcheries to be antibiotic-free and using minimal antibiotics in the growth of its chickens
Perdue Farms has recently released a statement saying it has stopped using antibiotics in all 15 of its hatchery locations. Public health advocates are responding with positive feedback and applause for Perdue. These advocates have been campaigning against the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture, arguing that it is adding to the plague of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The use of antibiotics in the production of chicken is almost ubiquitous, but not many people know it’s happening. As awareness is being raised against these antibiotic-filled chickens, Perdue took a huge step in the right direction by eliminating this process from its hatcheries.
This removal of antibiotics by Perdue did not happen overnight, but over the course of 12 years. This was an enormous effort put forth by Perdue to perfect hatching chicks without the need to inject them with the antibiotic gentamicin. The need for antibiotic use in hatcheries arises from the administration of a vaccine into each egg. When the chicks are almost ready to hatch from their shells, they are brought to a machine where each individual egg is punctured by a tiny needle containing a vaccine against Marek’s disease, which is a highly contagious chicken virus.
These needles leave a very small hole in the shell of the egg, which could allow bacteria to enter and infect the embryo. For this reason, antibiotics are also given to the unhatched chicks. Public health advocates, however, have been campaigning against the use of antibiotics in farm animals because it can increase the risk that bacteria will evolve to become resistant to antibiotics which, in turn, can make human infections harder to treat. However, Perdue has shown that these antibiotics are not necessary if the proper measures are taken. Over the years, the company learned how to make sure the hens who laid the eggs used by Perdue were healthy and that the eggs were clean when they arrived at the hatchery.
The senior vice president of Perdue says the hatcheries are working better now that they are antibiotic free than they ever did before. Even after the chicks are born, Perdue is making every effort to raise them with no antibiotics at all. As of now, some of Perdue’s chickens will get non-human antibiotics in their feed and fewer than five percent of their flocks are likely to get sick and receive antibiotics in their water. Applaud Perdue for taking a huge step forward for public health by instituting antibiotic-free hatcheries.
Dear Mr. Perdue,
Your years of work converting your hatcheries to become antibiotic free have not gone unnoticed. This is a great achievement and a huge step forward for public health. It was not an easy feat for your company, but for the health and safety of your consumers, it was necessary.
As you know, the use of antibiotics in farm animals can increase the risk that bacteria will evolve to become resistant to antibiotics which, in turn, can make human infections harder to treat. Beyond your hatcheries, you even attempt to grow your chickens without the use of antibiotics. While that is even more difficult, you are still trying your hardest to make your chicken completely antibiotic free, and you deserve recognition for the work you are doing in the poultry industry. Hopefully other companies will follow your lead and stop using antibiotics in the hatching and growth of their chickens as well. I want to commend you for your efforts and thank you for caring about your consumers more than profit.
[You Name Here]
Photo credit: onefox via Creative Commons