College Park, GA, United States (4E) – Chick-fil-A, the largest U.S. chicken restaurant chain, will stop serving chicken raised on antibiotics in five years.
The decision was made because the company wants to continue its 67-year tradition of using the highest-quality ingredients, according to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy in a statement released Tuesday.
The company is also removing high fructose corn syrup from its dressings and sauces, artificial ingredients in its buns and TBHQ preservative from its peanut oil. Last year, it removed yellow dye from its chicken soup.
Cathy said the change will take some time because all its national and regional chicken suppliers will have to make the changeover, including proving to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that chickens receive no antibiotics.
Public health group Keep Antibiotics Working and consumer protection group Consumers Union praised Chick-fil-A for the move arguing that raising chickens with antibiotics is unnecessary and critical medications should not be wasted on healthy livestock.
The trade group National Chicken Council, however, said antibiotics are used to prevent and treat disease in chicken.
“The science shows that responsible and judicious use of FDA-approved antibiotics to treat and prevent disease in livestock and poultry is both safe and effective,” Ashley Peterson, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, was quoted as saying by USA Today.
With the announcement, Chick-fil-A, which has 1,800 stores nationwide, join a list of restaurants that are removing controversial ingredients from their products. The sandwich restaurant chain Subway announced last week it will remove from its bread a chemical ingredient also used in making foamed plastics such as yoga mats and rubber-soled shoes.