Chick-fil-A walks back some of its antibiotic commitments, citing shortages

The chicken sandwich chain will serve chicken that hasn’t been treated with human antibiotics, saying it was necessary to maintain supplies.
Chick-fil-A will serve chicken that hasn't been treated with human antibiotics. | Photo: Shutterstock.

Chick-fil-A is backing off some of its antibiotic commitments, saying that it was necessary to maintain a steady supply of chicken for its sandwiches and nuggets.

The Atlanta-based chicken sandwich chain updated its chicken commitment on its website last week, saying it will source chicken that hasn’t been treated with human antibiotics beginning this spring.

“To maintain supply of the high-quality chicken you expect from us, Chick-fil-A will shift from No antibiotics Ever (NAE) to No Antibiotics Important to Human Medicine (NAIHM) starting in the spring of 2024,” the company said.

Chick-fil-A had one of the most aggressive and restrictive antibiotics policies, which it originally vowed in 2014. The company met that goal in 2019 and has been sourcing antibiotic-free chicken ever since.

In shifting its policy, it is adopting a far more common policy among major fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s, which have sourced chicken treated without human antibiotics.

Chick-fil-A in its announcement said it only sources chicken from farms that meet certain standards for animal wellbeing, and that it has a council of experts that provides feedback on the company’s practices.

But the 2,800-unit chain may not be the only one that has relaxed standards. Panera Bread reportedly relaxed its commitment to responsibly raised meat earlier this year.

Poultry producers for years used antibiotics in chickens to spur growth. But suppliers have moved away from that practice in recent years amid concern about the growth in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and amid more demand from restaurants and other buyers. 

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