Tyson Foods to stop using human antibiotics in its chicken production

Posted by Kate Barth on April 29, 2015

Tyson Foods, one of the United State’s largest meat producers and supplier to McDonalds, has announced that it is working to end the use of human antibiotics in its chicken production by 2017. The use of human antibiotics has been of significant concern to both health advocates, regulators and consumers for some time given the fear that such antibiotics may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections which kill tens of thousands of people yearly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that over least two million Americans become ill each year due to antibiotic-resistant infections with over 20,000 casualties.

In the statement put out by Tyson Foods, it claims to have already stopped using all antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries, and to have reduced human antibiotics used to treat broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011. This, and its new commitment to eliminate all human antibiotics in its chicken production in the next two years is welcome news. It does serve as a reminder, however, of how significantly large corporations, particular corporations operating in the food and drug arenas, can influence our health and well-being–a point made forcefully by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health in a recent report (A/HRC/26/31).

McDonald’s also announced in March that it intended to rid its supply chains of chicken treated with human antibiotics over the next two years. Let’s hope that the stated intentions of these two food producers come to fruition and encourage other fast food behemoths to follow suit.


Kate Barth is a legal officer at Lawyers Collective