Perdue Farms on Friday announced plans to convert a wide range of poultry products to its antibiotic-free program.
The company said that it will become the first major brand to produce its value-added chicken products without antibiotics, including frozen, refrigerated and fresh offerings.
In addition, food-service turkey products will be offered as part of Perdue's No Antibiotics Ever program despite the "more challenging" steps in raising turkeys without antibiotics.
The new products will hit store shelves across the country beginning this month and the conversion will be completed in May.
"Consumers shouldn’t have to decide between chicken raised without antibiotics that they can feel good about and the convenience they need in today’s busy lifestyles," said Perdue marketing executive Eric Christianson. "We’re giving them both and we’re doing it now."
Perdue eliminated routine use of human antibiotics from production in 2014. Currently, two-thirds of its chickens, as well as more than half of its turkey operations, are free of antibiotics.
The announcement follows widespread reductions in antibiotic use among chicken producers and in restaurants' supply chains. Critics of routine antibiotic use in meat animals blame the practice for the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Other large companies may have taken antibiotics out of a small segment of their total production, but we’re changing our production practices across the company,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, a veterinarian and Perdue’s senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production.