US - US poultry processor Perdue Foodservice has launched seven no-antibiotics-ever chicken products for school lunch programmes.
The meals include favourites such as nuggets, sandwich patty, chicken rings and chicken popcorn.
Perdue Foodservice has also committed to converting additional school lunch products, sold under the Kings Delight, Clux Delux and Perdue labels, to no-antibiotics-ever meat over the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year.
The products meet the School Food FOCUS – The Pew Charitable Trust Standard to Minimise the Use of Antibiotics in Poultry, as well as the standards of the Urban School Food Alliance. Together, these purchasing initiatives include many of the largest school districts in the US, serving more than four million students.
Jennifer Armstrong, Director of Sales, K-12 for Perdue Foodservice, said: “We’ve been providing consumers with the option for no-antibiotics-ever products since Perdue launched the Harvestland® brand in 2007. As a leader in no-antibiotics-ever production, it made sense for us to bring the same choice to school lunch programmes. These include the kinds of chicken products most popular with students, and we’re now making them from chicken raised with absolutely no antibiotics ever.”
The Urban School Food Alliance requirements also include USDA Process Verified Programs to verify the no-antibiotics-ever claim, along with raised on an all-vegetarian-diet with no animal by-products.
Ms Armstrong added: “We were the first chicken company to give consumers the added assurance of USDA Process Verified Programs. Now, school lunch programmes carrying our no-antibiotics-ever, USDA Process Verified products can offer important attributes to their students, and reassurance to their parents.”
For those school districts that are not using no-antibiotics-ever chicken, Perdue follows a minimal use policy for its other products that excludes the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or the continuous use of antibiotics used in human medicine.
Perdue Foods, the parent of Perdue Foodservice, received widespread praise from groups concerned about the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture for its September 2014 announcement that it has reduced overall use of human antibiotics by 95 per cent over a 12-year-period and does not use antibiotics for growth promotion or in its hatcheries.
Dr Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice president of Food Safety, Quality and Live Operations for Perdue Foods, commented: “We recognised that the public was concerned about the potential impact of the use of these drugs on their ability to effectively treat humans.”
As part of Perdue’s animal welfare commitment, should animals become ill – including those raised as no-antibiotics-ever or organic – they will be treated as medically appropriate. However, if antibiotics are used, those animals are not marketed as no-antibiotics-ever or organic.
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