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Tyson Foods sets deadline for eliminating human antibiotics from its chickens

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Taking the issue of antibiotic resistance seriously

One of the world's biggest meat processors, Tyson Foods, has set itself the goal of eliminating the use of human antibiotics from its US broiler chicken flocks by September 2017. The company has already reduced its reliance on antibiotics by 80 percent since 2011, and it claims to have eliminated them entirely in its 35 chicken hatcheries back in October of last year. Only sick birds are now treated with antibiotics, in accordance with a veterinarian's prescription.

Tyson's commitment isn't absolute, with the company saying it is "striving" to accomplish its stated goal, but it appears to be taking the matter seriously and will prepare annual progress reports. Recent times have seen McDonald's and Chick-fil-A both turning away from chicken routinely treated with antibiotics, acting in response to a growing recognition of and public dissatisfaction about the threat of antibiotic resistance in humans. Consuming antibiotics as part of your regular portion of chicken nuggets dulls their medical effectiveness, which in turn makes it more difficult to treat infections that antibiotics would otherwise shut down. This ongoing effort from Tyson Foods is part of an encouraging trend in the meat-processing industry, and the company says it's forming working groups and looking into establishing similar standards across its supply chain for other meats like pork, turkey, and beef.