Antibiotic-free chicken now in consumer mainstream
The increasing consumer demand for antibiotic-free chicken and the industry’s response was the topic of a panel discussion sponsored by DuPont during IPPE 2015
Antibiotic-free broiler products are no longer a niche market. The event that brought antibiotics in food into the mainstream was several years ago when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association turned antibiotic use in animals into a human health issue. That was the opinion expressed by Richard Kottmeyer, founder and managing director of Strategic, at the beginning of a panel discussion on antibiotic-free poultry production. The discussion was sponsored by DuPont and held in Atlanta January 27 during IPPE 2015.
“We now have a lot of people who know someone who has problems with antibiotic resistance,” said Kottmeyer. “It is a mainstream health issue. I think in a few years, one-third of chicken and turkey will be antibiotic free. The problem then is the other 66 percent of consumers will be resenting the fact their chicken isn’t antibiotic free.”
Perdue has been one of the leading mainstream poultry producers embracing antibiotic-free production. Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President Food Safety and Quality, talked about Perdue’s 12-year journey to antibiotic-free production and some of the lessons learned. He stressed it is a process.
“We’ve learned a lot of things,” said Stewart-Brown. “For example, you must have clean eggs in hatchery. We had to clean hatcheries better, had to step up sanitation and use a stricter approach as it related to personnel and procedures. I think the hatchery piece was the most significant to work through, but in the end all that cleaning and sanitation had positive side benefits in regards to chick quality.
Other speakers on the panel included Dr. Gregory Siragusa, senior principal scientist – microbiology, Danisco/DuPont; and Dr. Steven Collett, clinical associate professor, University of Georgia. The discussion was moderated by Terrence O’Keefe, WATT’s Content Director-Agribusiness.