Perdue, as well as other chicken companies, is beginning to opt for probiotics as an alternate to antibiotics.
Poultry companies feed antibiotics, the agent that aids in either killing or preventing growth of microorganisms, to chicken to battle diseases as well as increase the pace in which chicken grow. However, for years public advocates have been pushing to end this tradition stating it can lead to the rise of more antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In an interview with NPR, Bruce Stewart-Brown, an executive at Perdue Farms, said the chicken giant has minimized its antibiotic usage and have increased the amount of probiotics by five times in the last five years.
“As we took antibiotics out of the feed, we put some other things in, such as probiotics. We’ve increased the amount of probiotics by five times over the past five years. It’s a significant part of our program.”
As stated in a press release, this is all part of Perdue’s new responsible program that does not risk the medical effectiveness of antibiotics for humans. “While treating illness is a responsible part of animal care, we believe human-approved antibiotics should not be used to boost production or in place of responsible animal husbandry or hatchery management,” Chairman Jim Perdue said.
Though Perdue has not completely eliminated all antibiotic usage—the company does use animal-only antibiotics to control intestinal parasite and will continue to use antibiotics to treat and control sick flocks— its hope is that probiotics, which are considered “good bacteria,” will force out harmful bacteria that makes chickens sick.
As a mean to make its product healthier, the poultry company has also eliminated the use of animal byproducts, such as fat, in chicken feed. In addition, the company has realized that chickens appeared to stay healthier on a vegetarian diet. The company now vaccinates its chicken. Perdue has also experimented with herbal remedies.