Wendy’s Plans to Eliminate Antibiotics from Chicken Production in 2017

Wendy’s Plans to Eliminate Antibiotics from Chicken Production in 2017

Earlier this month, the Wendy’s fast-food chain announced it will quit using chickens raised with ‘human antibiotics’ by 2017. [1]

The Dangers Posed by Overuse of Antibiotics

There is growing concern worldwide over the looming threat of antimicrobial resistance. The World Health Organization (WHO) said in April that antimicrobial resistance could kill as many as 10 million people by 2050, making it an even bigger threat to human health than cancer.

One of the major causes of antimicrobial resistance is the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The drugs are fed to livestock and poultry to promote growth and prevent disease.

An estimated 70% of antibiotics important to human health are sold for use in meat and dairy production.

Companies are Beginning to Heed the Warnings

In the spring of 2015, Tyson, the nation’s largest chicken producer, vowed to stop feeding its chickens antibiotics that are important to human health by 2017.

Last fall, the sandwich chain Subway said it would go completely antibiotics-free (it would take up to 3 years to phase out antibiotics in its turkeys), just months after McDonald’s made the same promise.

Wendy’s said the company and its chicken suppliers have been working to eliminate all antibiotics vital to human health from chicken production. Half of the chain’s chicken supply was raised without medically important antibiotics as of June 2016, and the company said that number would increase to 100% by next year.

Wendy’s first began testing antibiotic-free chicken a year ago, but still received a grade of “F” on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s antibiotics policy report card because the company lacked a timeline or firm policy for reducing the use of the drugs. [2]

The company purchases more than 250 million pounds of chicken annually. [1]

Wendy’s also said it would commit to specific goals for the reduction of antibiotics important to humans in pork and beef production next year. Additionally, it said it is currently working with academics and industry experts on work that includes trials for probiotics, vaccines, feed supplements, and nutrition composition.

However, this doesn’t mean fast-food will be completely antibiotics-free. McDonald’s, for example, can still buy chicken that contains certain antibiotics that aren’t used to treat humans. [3]


[1] Fortune

[2] Consumerist

[3] Time Money