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U.S. Chicken Industry Deploys Wet Wipes, Oregano, As KFC Shuns Some Antibioticsv

U.S. Chicken Industry Deploys Wet Wipes, Oregano, As KFC Shuns Some Antibioticsv
Top U.S. chicken company Tyson Foods Inc and rival producers are turning to sanitizing wipes, bacteria-reducing fog and even oregano to keep birds healthy to meet increasing demand for meat raised without certain antibiotics.
In a part of a fight against the rise of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in people, some have spent years of trial and error on new techniques to figure out replacements for human drugs.
The last of the big three U.S. chicken restaurants to move away from antibiotics important to human medicine is the Yum Brands Inc's KFC which did so on Friday. Similar commitments have already been made by McDonald's Corp and privately held Chick-fil-A.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than 42 percent of the U.S. chicken industry has already committed to reducing the use of antibiotics nationwide. That number is set to grow with KFC's move.
A "major milestone" that should significantly increase the supply of bone-in chicken raised without medically important antibiotics, was how the move was described by KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman. He said that this move should also open the door for smaller chains to follow suit.
One-third of its suppliers were already transitioning to chicken raised with fewer antibiotics, estimated KFC, which sells more than 65 million buckets of chicken a year.
Since it had to persuade suppliers of bone-in chickens it uses to make the change, it was late to shift away from human antibiotics, the company said.
Since others do not meet its specifications, the chain typically only buys up to one-third of birds in a flock. The company said that hence before being able to curb use of the drugs to satisfy KFC, its suppliers needed to find other buyers.
Vijay Sukumar, chief food innovation officer for KFC's U.S. operations, said that to keep birds healthy and given them more room to move, the suppliers have improved hygiene and airflow in chicken houses. He said that it has reduced the need for drugs even though it has raised costs.
"We had to convince our suppliers to go for the change and then they worked with us," Sukumar said.
By the end of September 2017, to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its broiler flocks, or those raised for meat, Tyson, one of KFC's suppliers, set a goal in April 2015.
Tyson said that in its fiscal year 2016, more than 90 percent of broiler chickens in its supply chain were raised without antibiotics also used in humans.
It eliminated the routine use of all antibiotics in chicken last year, said Perdue Farms, a competitor. Banking on the herb's antioxidants to keep them healthy, it now puts oregano in birds' water.

eggs that hatch into baby chicks, which are most vulnerable to sickness and its facilities are being sanitized, Tyson said.
Bill Hewat, Tyson's director of international veterinarian services, said that the company now asks farmers to rub them with sanitizing wipes before shipping them to a Tyson facility as it wants eggs to be cleaner before they hatch.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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