Recently there has been a tremendous buzz about the latest marketing campaign by Panera Bread and its “Antibiotic-Free” chicken.
I saw this campaign several weeks ago and brushed it off as another ill-guided attempt to mislead the consumer. I did nothing, so shame on me. But, on the other hand, there is much more to the story that needs to be addressed.
Last month when I was in Washington, D.C., at the BBQ Battle with the All American Beef Battalion, the Perdue Chicken truck was just down the street from our cooking grill.
The truck had several misleading statements about the production of its chicken on it including:
- All Vegetarian diets
- No Animal By-Products Fed
- Cage Free
I visited with the young lady in charge of marketing with Perdue and she was quite proud of the campaign. In fact, she went on to tell me that Perdue has on-staff veterinarians and nutritionists to ensure its chickens are healthy and that the company doesn’t need to feed antibiotics.
I informed her that Perdue was not unique in this regard and that all chicken farms had the same expertise. She wanted to argue that point. This is not a new campaign by Perdue, but I am somewhat troubled that so many in the farming sector got all riled up by Panera Bread and its marketing campaign when the very farmer producing the chicken Panera uses promotes this same misinformation to sell chicken.
I don’t believe it was the antibiotic-free statement that got all the farmers clucking, but rather that Panera Bread said farmers should work to produce healthy chickens instead of being lazy by using antibiotics.
I support being vigilant to ensure truth in labeling is presented at all times, but I hope my fellow farmers and ranchers do their homework and make sure they know the real source of the contamination.