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Chick-Fil-A Revises Antibiotic Policy To Address Human Health Concerns

A Chick-fil-A location in Philadelphia is shown Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The popular fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A has announced a significant shift in its antibiotic policy, moving away from its previous 'no antibiotics ever' pledge. This decision comes as a response to growing concerns about antibiotic resistance in humans, which has been linked to the widespread use of these drugs in livestock production.

Chick-Fil-A has now adopted a new standard known as 'no antibiotics important to human medicine' (NAIHM). This standard focuses on avoiding the use of antibiotics commonly used in human medicine and limits the administration of animal antibiotics to cases of actual animal illness.

For years, livestock producers have relied on antibiotics to promote rapid weight gain in animals like chickens, pigs, cows, and sheep, thereby increasing the profitability of their operations. However, mounting evidence has shown that this practice contributes to drug resistance and diminishes the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating human diseases.

The transition to the new antibiotic policy is set to begin in the spring of 2024 for Chick-Fil-A. The company cited concerns about securing an adequate supply of antibiotic-free chicken as a driving factor behind this decision.

Notably, Tyson Foods, one of the leading players in the poultry industry, made a similar move last year by reintroducing some antibiotics into its chicken production. This shift marked a departure from its previous 'No Antibiotics Ever' labeling and was based on scientific research and industry insights.

In a video released by Tyson Foods in May 2023, the company's senior director of animal welfare explained that they planned to use ionophores, a type of antibiotic that does not impact human medicine, to enhance the health and well-being of the birds under their care. Ionophores have a history of use in promoting livestock growth without posing risks to human health.

These developments underscore the evolving landscape of antibiotic use in livestock production and the industry's efforts to balance animal welfare with human health considerations. As more companies like Chick-Fil-A and Tyson Foods adjust their antibiotic policies, the focus remains on sustainable practices that safeguard both animal and human well-being.

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