The University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) has pledged to serve 100 percent antibiotic-free chicken in all of its retail and residential operations.

As part of the dining program’s ongoing partnership with NatureRaised Farms, part of the Tyson Foods family of companies, UMass Dining Services is one of the first universities and the largest college and university foodservice program in the country to take this pledge.

The decision was made following a survey that concluded in April.  The survey revealed the student body believes in the importance of antibiotic-free animal production.

Currently, chicken is consumed more than any other protein source at UMass Amherst.  In fiscal year 2015, UMass Dining began sourcing local, no-antibiotic-ever chicken and turkey, purchasing more than 30,000 pounds. This new initiative will add to the local supply bringing total consumption of no-antibiotic-ever chicken and turkey to more than 750,000 pounds annually. 

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“Switching to no-antibiotic-ever chicken is the right thing to do,” said Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst. “Not only are the students demanding it, but as the largest campus dining operation in the United States, we wanted to take a leadership role in the foodservice industry by making this pledge. We appreciate the support from Tyson Foods and we will continue to source healthier and more socially and environmentally responsible ingredients for our customers.”

Initial reactions from the campus community have been positive.

UMass Dining is the largest dining program in the nation and serves 45,000 meals per day, 6 million meals per year and has more than 18,000 people on a meal plan who dine at four residential dining commons and over 30 retail locations around campus.

All NatureRaised Farms products are developed to reach the core natural and organic consumer. All are made with 100 percent all natural ingredients, with no preservatives, no artificial colors, no fillers, no trans fats, are minimally processed and are nutritionally responsible. NatureRaised Farms chickens are raised with no antibiotics ever, a vegetarian diet and certified by third party animal welfare. NatureRaised Farms is a registered trademark of Tyson Foods.