Antibiotic free chicken production: Tyson Foods shifts up a gear

© iStock

Tyson Foods is set to switch its retail line of company-branded chicken products to birds raised without any antibiotics.

The company announced the decision as part of its presentation to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York on Tuesday (21 February).

Worth Sparkman, spokesperson for Tyson Foods, told us those ‘no antibiotic ever’ (NAE) branded products will be rolled out in June. 

The feed–microbiota–host interactions are extremely complex, but expertise on how to steer this relationship is growing rapidly.

FeedNavigator’s webinar on Thursday, 2 March will hear from US and European experts about the latest insights they have gleaned through their varied approaches to poultry gut health research.

You can follow this link to register for the free event.

The initiative will make Tyson Foods the largest producer of chicken that was raised using no antibiotics ever, said the US processor. 

“We’ve been producing ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ chicken since 2013 with the introduction of Nature Raised Farms brand, and, more recently, with the introduction of the Tyson naturals products. These products are currently a small percentage of our business, but we expect them to grow," said Sparkman. 

Welfare concerns 

The move away from the use of antibiotics in that retail line does not mean that birds will be neglected if they develop an illness or injury, he stressed.

“It would be inhumane to let birds suffer, so that’s not an option,” said Sparkman. “Birds that become ill will be treated with the appropriate medicines as prescribed by a veterinarian.”

In removing antibiotics from feed or use with poultry raised for these lines, the company has turn to alternative products including work with probiotics, said Sparkman.

“Other examples include essential oils, or botanicals, which are plant extracts that can also be good for digestive health,” he said. “We continue to test new alternatives to antibiotics.”

Tyson previously said it would remove antibiotics that are important to human medicine from its broiler production by autumn 2017.

The company started to limit the use of antibiotics important to human medicine in 2011. By October 2014, it had ended the use of any antibiotic at its 35 broiler chicken hatcheries and, in January of 2015, it stopped using antibiotics in company-owned feed mills producing broiler feed.

Market trend

Tyson Foods is not the only US company working to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in the past few years.

Processors like Perdue Foods and Cargill also have also carried out similar reduction work.

Perdue started its efforts to limit the use of antibiotics in its chicken production in 2002; in 2014, it announced it had removed all antibiotics from its hatcheries.

Similarly, Cargill said last year it would reduce the amount of antibiotics used in its cattle production and has been tracking consumers’ responses in relation to antibiotic use in livestock production.

However, others, like Sanderson Farms said they are not planning on following the trend, claiming the evidence linking the use of antibiotics in poultry production to an increase in bacteria resistant to antibiotics important for human health is lacking. Antibiotics, added Sanderson, support the industry in sustainability efforts.

Related News

'Every living species has HDPs. I like to think of them as the animal’s natural antibiotics, they are peptides that are acting just like antibiotics that we have used for therapeutic control of disease for decades.' © istock

What do vitamin D and host defense peptides have to do with poultry gut health?

Tyson increases offer for Hillshire Brands, Pilgrim's bows out

Tyson Foods settles feed additive leak case

Tyson Foods settles in feed additive leak case for over half a million dollars

Tyson Foods CEO resigns as sector faces weak demand

Tyson sees demand for chicken, challenges with beef

Tyson sees demand for chicken, challenges with beef


Tyson anticipates massive drop in feed costs

Tyson Foods turns to probiotics and essential oils in move away from dual use antibiotics

Tyson Foods turns to probiotics and essential oils in move away from dual use antibiotics

Zilmax field trials underway but Cargill and Tyson still ban product in their supply chains

Zilmax field trials underway but Cargill and Tyson still ban product in their supply chains

Agricultural use of antibiotics set to grow by 2030

Agricultural use of antibiotics set to grow by 2030

© iStock/grThirteen

Groups petitions US FDA to ban in-feed, preventative antibiotic use


US team tracks antibiotic resistant gene clusters in swine


US: Minnesota backs antibiotic stewardship, judicious use

© istock/ jetstream4wd

Greater monitoring of antibiotic resistance in retail meat needed: UK campaigners


What is needed from US producers to address antibiotic resistance

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.