(NaturalNews) Tyson Foods, Inc. -- the world's largest processor and marketer of beef, chicken and pork, and the United States' single largest beef exporter -- has announced that its fresh chicken products will no longer come from animals treated with antibiotics.
"Because of the size and scale of our operations, we're able to convert our entire branded business and assure supply to our customers," said Dave Hogberg, Tyson's senior vice president of fresh meal solutions. According to Hogberg, Tyson is the first major poultry processor to make antibiotic-free fresh chicken available on a large scale.
All Tyson fresh poultry products will now be packaged with a label reading "Raised Without Antibiotics." A fraction of flocks will still be dosed with antibiotics -- either for treatment or prevention of disease -- but meat from these animals will not include the "Raised Without Antibiotics" label. In addition, the company will include other product lines, including Deli Rotisserie, to the Raised Without Antibiotics program.
Livestock on factory farms are regularly treated with antibiotics as a preventive measure, to compensate for the disease resistance that results from overcrowding and the lowered resistance of highly domesticated animal breeds. In addition, antibiotic treatment increases the rate at which animals grow, increasing profits for producers. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of the antibiotics and related drugs produced in the United States, or 25 million pounds, are used for these "nontherapeutic" purposes. This is eight times more than the amount of antibiotics used on humans.
One of the problems with excessive antibiotic use is that it accelerates the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In light of these and other problems, consumers are increasingly seeking more natural food options. According to a 2006 survey by Michigan State University, approximately 50 percent of consumers questioned were concerned about the use of antibiotics and hormones in food production.