Chick-Fil-A Changes Its Mind About Antibiotics In Chicken

The fast food chain isn’t alone in changing its commitments to poultry standards.

The shifting availability of high-quality chicken has fast food giant Chick-fil-A ready to relax its own rules a bit, the brand announced on its website. Beginning in the spring, the chain is changing its poultry standards from a "No Antibiotics Ever (NAE)" policy to "No Antibiotics Important To Human Medicine (NAIHM)."

Under the new policy, Chick-fil-A will allow for the chicken served on its menu to have been treated with animal antibiotics only if the chicken or the others around it were to become sick.

Chick-fil-A’s new chicken standards, explained

"In accordance with FDA requirements, all antibiotics must be cleared from the chicken's system before it is considered available for the chicken supply," reads Chick-fil-A's website. "The United States Department of Agriculture audits and verifies that suppliers are meeting the requirements of the Chick-fil-A NAIHM commitment."

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In addition to these requirements, Chick-fil-A requires suppliers to meet certain standards, which include that the chickens be hatched, raised, and harvested domestically in the U.S.; that suppliers use climate-controlled, cage-free barns; and that chickens be "protected from adverse weather and predators," raised with proper nutrition, and be minimally stressed "prior to harvest."

The chain's change in policy is contrary to its announcement in 2014 that it would only sell antibiotic-free chicken at its restaurants within five years, USA Today reports.

Fast food’s changing views on chicken

Despite potential backlash, Chick-fil-A isn't the only restaurant chain to walk back its previously touted commitment to "clean" ingredients.

Just recently, Panera reportedly began making internal policy changes that would allow for some of its pork and turkey products to contain antibiotics, and for its chicken and cattle to come from suppliers who use feed containing animal products. These changes are strikingly counter to Panera's 2014 commitment to clean ingredients that was promoted to customers with a promise to remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives from all of its food by 2016.

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Panera's alleged policy changes would reportedly save the brand millions in annual costs, but Chick-fil-A stated to USA Today that it's changing its approach to NAE due to concerns for the poultry supply.

"As we looked to the future, the availability of high-quality chicken that meets our rigid standards became a concern," Chick-fil-A said in a statement to USA Today. "This change enables us to not only ensure we can continue to serve high-quality chicken, but also chicken that still meets the expectations our customers count on us to deliver."

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