Tyson To Phase Out Antibiotics From Chicken, Showing It Can Be Done

Statement of OSPIRG Executive Director Dave Rosenfeld on Tyson’s announcement regarding antibiotic use in its chicken operations

“Tyson announced today that it will eliminate the use human antibiotics for raising chickens in its US operations by September 2017, following the lead of Purdue and Pilgrim. At this point, over a third of the U.S. chicken industry has eliminated or pledged to eliminate routine medically important antibiotic use.

“Meanwhile, the Oregon Legislature has an opportunity to become the first state to prohibit the routine overuse of medically important antibiotics by passing Senate Bill 920. Leading medical institutions and organizations such as OHSU, Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Nurses Association and Oregon Pediatric Society support SB 920, as does Friends of Family Farmers and the hundreds of farmers they represent.

“SB 920 would still allow farmers to treat sick animals with antibiotics, and even gives farmers discretion to do some preventative treatment when there are herd outbreaks. SB 920 sensibly focuses on the practice of giving animals ongoing, routine, low doses of antibiotics on an ongoing basis – the key practice that breeds superbugs. We would never give a roomful of schoolchildren a daily dose of antibiotics just to keep them from getting sick. The same goes for animals. Yet it happens every day – at great risk to public health.

“Compared to the U.S. chicken industry’s work to eliminate antibiotics from their herds altogether, Oregon’s legislation is a modest approach. Still, some of Oregon’s largest factory farms – Willamette Egg Farms, Three Mile Canyon and Northwest Beef—oppose SB 920, claiming it will be burdensome. But if one-third of the U.S. chicken industry can go all the way, then surely Oregon’s largest factory farms can simply stop the most dangerous overuse of antibiotics.”

Links:

Senate Bill 920

Fact sheet on SB 920

OSPIRG testimony on SB 920

OHSU/OMA testimony on SNB 920

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