Antibiotics in chicken feed increases production cost
Using data from poultry giant Perdue, researchers at
Johns Hopkins University found that antibiotics slightly accelerated chicken
growth, but that the benefit was offset by the cost of purchasing
The Johns Hopkins
is in line with a 2002 study by researchers at Kansas State University showing
that the use of growth-promoting antibiotics provided no economic benefits
during the "finishing" stage of hog production.
Medical and public health experts have long decried the use of growth
promoting antibiotics (GPAs) as an important cause of antibiotic-resistant
infections. Europe has banned the use of growth promoting antibiotics for this
reason. Agricultural and pharmaceutical interests have defended the practice by
arguing that GPAs are needed for efficient farm production, an argument that
this new study refutes using the poultry industry's own data.
"We have never believed that shaving a few pennies off production costs
justified the erosion of our valuable arsenal of antibiotics," said Richard
Wood, Steering Committee Chair of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition (KAW).
"But the fact that in today's poultry operations, growth promoting antibiotics
don't even reduce costs just strengthens the case for eliminating them. It
doesn't make sense, or cents, to continue this practice."
other large poultry producers, Tyson
, Gold Kist
, and Foster Farms
, say they no longer use antibiotics to promote
growth. However, because the government does not collect drug use data, there is
no way to verify these claims. In addition, companies such as McDonald's
and Compass Group
, one of the largest contract food service
companies in North America, have adopted policies that prohibit the purchase of
certain meats if the animals were given antibiotics important in human medicine
to accelerate their growth.
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