Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Culture of Fear: Chick-fil-A To Only Sell "Antibiotic-Free" Chicken

(This article is part of my Culture of Fear series, which exposes different businesses, restaurants, and people that choose to spread lies and misconceptions about farmers in order to further their agenda or make a buck.)

Chick-fil-A announced today that it plans on only selling meat from chickens that have never been treated with antibiotics within 5 years. Given recent trends, the company believes that consumers will be happy for the change.

Tim Tassopoulos, Chick-fil-A's executive vice president of operations said they will eventually advertise the new antibiotic-free status. "We're going to make sure customers know," he said.

Well, no joke.

Because this is a marketing ploy. 

As I've covered numerous times, none of the chicken you or I buy in the store or consumer in restaurants has any amounts of antibiotics. In other words, "It's All Antibiotics Free, Baby!" Look, you are not eating antibiotics when you currently go to Chick-fil-A and eat the sandwich.

Of course, we've seen this bit of skilled marketing gimmicks from other chain restaurants in recent months (namely Chipotle and Panera).

Screen shot of Chick-fil-A's website announcing their
"journey" to becoming antibiotic-free.

Let's review some basic information (as succinctly prepared by Find Our Common Ground).
Should I be concerned about antibiotics in my meat?
  • The FDA does not allow meat to be sold with traces of antibiotics above strict safety limits. The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) performs scheduled, but random, testing of meat nationwide. According to FDA and FSIS regulations, livestock antibiotic use requires specific withdrawal times, or a set number of days that must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply. This ensures the drugs have sufficiently cleared an animal’s system.
Why are antibiotics given to livestock?
  • According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), U.S. farmers and ranchers must maintain good animal care, which includes making sure animals are healthy; comfortable; well nourished; safe; able to express the natural behaviors of their species; and not experiencing pain, fear and distress. According to AVMA, banning or severely restricting the use of antimicrobials in animals would negatively impact a veterinarian’s ability to protect animal health and prevent suffering from disease, which can lead to poor welfare.
  • Healthy animals provide healthy food. The judicious use of antibiotics helps prevent and control disease. This reduces the risk of unhealthy animals entering our food supply, according to FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Is human health impacted by eating meat from animals given antibiotics?
  • “The judicious use of all drugs in animals, particularly food-producing animals, is very important. The use of medicated feeds in food-producing animals is evaluated and regulated to prevent harmful effects on both animal and human health,” said Steven D. Vaughn, D.V.M., director of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Nothing to worry about.

Unless and until consumers start getting wise to these anti-conventional farming market tricks, I suspect we will see more and more companies using it. And why not? If you know that you don't really have to change much to increase sales, of course you're going to to do it. This is especially true when you see other chains attempting to do it and getting away with it. (Remember: Panera wouldn't apologize for calling farmers "lazy" for using antibiotics to take care of our chickens.)

The only thing we can do to stop it is to keep educating folks.

1 comment:

  1. I'm getting REALLY sick of these companies marketing this way. I'm voting with my dollars and I don't buy A&W, nor would I eat at Chipotle, Panera, or now Chick-fil-a if they were in Alberta.