The biggest seller of chicken in the U.S. is banning human antibiotics in its poultry products, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
Tyson Foods (TSN) announced that it will halt the use of such antibiotics by September 2017. Drugs deemed “medically important” are targeted in the new decision. In the past, such antibiotics were used to prevent disease in chicken pens, and to help the poultry grow.
“We are better off,” said CEO Donnie Smith in an interview with Bloomberg. “We have found that not only have we been able to reduce the need for antibiotics, we have better performance along the way.”
Sales of antibiotic-free chicken increased by 25 percent, in dollars, during the 52 weeks ending Jan. 25, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. That represents about 11 percent of overall chicken sales. (Sales of organic chicken, which is, by definition, antibiotic-free, increased 33 percent during that period, according to IRI.)