Chick-fil-A, Inc. announced Feburary 11 the company's plan to serve chicken raised without antibiotics in all Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide within five years. This move marks the first time a quick service restaurant has committed to a 100 percent "raised without antibiotics" standard for poultry.
"Since our family business began 67 years ago, we have focused on our customers. It's why we insist upon using the highest quality ingredients," said Dan Cathy, president and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A. "We want to continue that heritage, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step."
Chick-fil-A consumer research indicates an interest in how food is made and where it is sourced, with particular interest in the use of antibiotics. As a result, the company is partnering with its national and regional poultry suppliers to build the necessary supply of chickens raised without antibiotics to match the chain's sales volume. The company is asking suppliers to work with the USDA to verify that no antibiotics are administered at any point.
"A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain - from the hatchery to the processing plant. Our suppliers are committed, and we pledge to have this conversion complete within five years or sooner based on supply chain readiness," said Tim Tassopoulos, executive vice president of operations of Chick-fil-A. He added, "Because this will take some time, we will begin posting quarterly updates on our website in 2015 after our initial phase-in. We want to make it easy for customers to monitor our progress."
The change comes on the heels of Chick-fil-A's late-2013 announcement that the company removed yellow dye from its chicken soup, and is testing the removal of high fructose corn syrup from all of its dressings and sauces, artificial ingredients from its bun, and TBHQ from its peanut oil. The chain previously removed trans fat from all of its menu items and condiments in 2008. Chick-fil-A chicken is 100 percent pure breast meat with no fillers, additives, hormones and steroids. No artificial or added hormones are used in the production of any poultry in the United States.
"Transparency in our food is important to our customers, and it's important to us too," said Cathy.