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Animal Agribusiness Angle

Roy Graber, staff reporter for WATTAgNet, combines his Midwestern farming background with his knowledge of economics and agriculture policy to offer a deeper look at the poultry and pig industries.
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Fast-food chain rejects ‘antibiotic-free’ chicken label

The use of the phrase 'no antibiotics ever' in a press release issued by the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. is a refreshing change of pace. | CKE Restaurants Holdings

Executive with Hardee's and Carl's Jr. says there is a difference between 'antibiotic free' and 'no antibiotics ever'

March 29, 2017

I’ve grown accustomed to paying close attention to the exact phrasing in press releases whenever a restaurant company announces a change regarding things such as antibiotic use, cages in egg production and slower-growing broiler chickens.

In most cases, it signals a lack of understanding about production techniques in animal agriculture and a likely concession to animal rights and other special interest groups.

But a recent press release from CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of fast food restaurant chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., made me realize that some restaurant company executives do understand, or at least, are making an effort to understand.

The company on March 28 announced that the charbroiled chicken filet sandwich would come from birds raised with “no antibiotics ever.”

It’s so refreshing to see a company use that phrase, rather than “antibiotic free,” which of course means nothing, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines that animals be taken off of antibiotics for a period of time before they enter the food supply.

In the press release, Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, stated, “Antibiotic claims are kind of tricky. ‘Antibiotic free’ doesn’t mean the same thing as ‘no antibiotics ever.”

Will other restaurants notice those words?

While it is common knowledge in the poultry industry that “no antibiotics ever” is a more appropriate phrase in products from animals that were never treated with antibiotics, that isn’t necessarily the case with restaurant executives and it certainly isn’t the case with the consumers who eat at those restaurants.

Haley’s comment shows that he is trying to do a little bit of educating about the subject, and that is something I appreciate.

In fact, to quote an old commercial jingle from my childhood, it makes me want to “Hurry on down to Hardee’s.”

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