Papa John’s Restaurant Will Phase Out Chicken Raised With Antibiotics By Next Summer

Dec 21, 2015 11:30 AM EST | By Karen Jean N. Tiongco

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Papa John’s Restaurant is the latest fast-food chain to announce plans to cut out antibiotics from its chicken production.

The Louisville-based chain announced Wednesday, December 16 their plans to source poultry that is raised without human and animal antibiotics, as well as fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet. By summer 2016, these would both come from drug-free chickens.

Papa John’s Restaurant uses chicken both as a chicken topping and in “chicken poppers,”

Senior VP of Research and Development, Sean Muldoon, with Papa John’s, explains that “Our immediate focus was on our grilled chicken pizza toppings and chicken poppers," he added, "but we’re also in the process of working on our wings — there are complexities that make the timeline longer.”

Overuse of antibiotics on farms can lead to resistant bacteria that cause infections in both animals and humans and could spread resistance genes from animal bacteria to human pathogens.

Antibiotics are commonly used to promote the growth of food-producing animals and to prevent, control and treat disease.

Papa John's claims to be the first national pizza chain to take such a step. The company says it's already made strides toward this commitment by securing contracts with its suppliers and ensuring that they are on track to complete the process on schedule.

The company is going through a period of massive growth and plans to open roughly 200 restaurants annually for the next several years, according to an investor presentation earlier this year.

Papa John's restaurant franchising cost is already relatively cheap, compared to other fast-food restaurants like McDonald's or Taco Bell.

Franchise stores owners pay a royalty fee 5% of net sales to Papa John's International, and up to 7% of net sales on advertising efforts.

The Papa John's restaurant franchise was founded in 1983 when "Papa" John Schnatter knocked out a broom closet in the back of his father's tavern, Mick's Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

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