Chick-fil-A Promises Antibiotic Free Chicken Within the Next Five Years

Feb 12, 2014 11:24 AM EST | By Dina Exil

Chick-fil-A, the nation's largest chicken chain in annual sales, announced Tuesday that within five years it will no longer sell products containing meat from chickens raised with antibiotics, the Associated Press reported.

For 67 years, the chain has used the highest-quality ingredients, according to Dan Cathy, president and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A.

"We have focused on our customers. It's why we insist upon using the highest quality ingredients," Cathy said in a statement. "We want to continue that heritage, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step."

The chain is currently working with their suppliers to develop an "adequate supply" for their nearly 1,800 restaurants in 39 states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will ensure that the chickens do not receive any antibiotics.

"We have an ongoing process of constantly monitoring what our consumers prefer in terms of health and nutrition and what's in our food, and this issue surfaced as the No. 1 issue for our customers," said Tim Tassopoulos, executive vice president for operations at Chick-fil-A.

The AP reported that the use of antibiotics in animals have become a serious issue. Antibiotics are added to food and water, then given to healthy animals--like cattle, poultry and hogs--to help increase their weight.

Reuters recently reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed over a dozen potentially harmful antibiotics to be used in livestock feed, despite research studies claiming that these drugs are at "high risk of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the food supply."

A growing number of restaurant chains, including Chipotle and Panera Bread, have made commitments to serve meat that originate only from animals raised without antibiotics.

The change is in response to the growing number of consumers who have been urging for more natural food product. Vani Hari, health activist and creator of the website foodbabe.com called Chick-fil-A's action a "huge deal."

"This is the most concerning food issue of our time, because if we can't treat diseases with antibiotics, it has the potential to wipe out the human race," Hari said.

Kraft's Food Singles cheese product slices are also ditching artificial preservatives in its Kraft Singles full-fat American and White American cheese. The company has replaced Sorbic acid with a "natural mold inhibitor" called natamycin.

Last week, Subway announced that it remove special ingredient, azodicarbonamide from its breads, after an online petition pointed out that the ingredient was also used for industrial uses, like yoga mats and shoes.

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