Chick-fil-A now allowing antibiotics in chicken

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Chick-fil-A is relaxing its quality standards, allowing some antibiotics in its chicken this spring after a decade of committing to serving antibiotic-free products, according to various news reports.

This move comes after a decade-long commitment to serving antibiotic-free products, which began in 2014. At that time, Chick-fil-A set a goal to provide antibiotic-free chicken, a goal it later achieved.

The fast-food company announced on its website, “To maintain supply of the high-quality chicken you expect from us, Chick-fil-A will shift from No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) to No Antibiotics Important To Human Medicine (NAIHM) starting in the spring of 2024.  Quality has always been our approach to food. And because chicken is at the center of our menu, we serve only real, white breast meat with no added fillers, artificial preservatives, or steroids with no added hormones.”

Photo Courtesy: Adobe Stock

Chick-fil-A also mentioned the shift from antibiotic-free chicken comes from supply reasons. Multiple employees at local Chick-fil-A outlets were contacted but all of them declined to comment.

Reaction to the change among patrons has been mixed. Chick-fil-A customer Marie Coffield said, “They will lose business doing this. If they are worried about cutting cost, watch how much they lose if they change the chicken.”

Ryan Sanders said, “I’d rather be sold out of good chicken than be in stock of chemical chicken but that’s just me. I bet the prices are about to go up too.”

A customer who asked to remain anonymous said, “I don’t care, as long as it tastes good.”

It’s worth noting that the Food and Drug Administration has expressed greater concern about the use of antibiotics that are commonly prescribed to humans rather than those used to treat animal illnesses. Chick-fil-A clarified that it would still serve chicken that is free of antibiotics important to human medicine, focusing on antibiotics commonly used to treat people.

The Washington Post reported that in recent years, food companies have moved to limit the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock. But chicken that has never been exposed to antibiotics is getting more difficult to source.

Last year, mega-producer Tyson dropped its “no antibiotics ever” labels and moved to the same, less-restrictive rule, according to The Washington Post.

Under the NAIHM (or “no antibiotics important to human medicine”) label, antibiotics may be used only to treat actual illnesses in animals rather than to promote growth in livestock, something producers have sometimes done to boost profits.

Overall, Chick-fil-A’s decision reflects the balancing act many food companies face between ensuring a consistent supply of products and maintaining quality standards that align with consumer expectations and health considerations.