The major US poultry producer said it uses an animal-only antibiotic to control internal parasites and to treat and control illness in sick flocks.
Dr Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice-president of food safety, quality and live operations at Perdue Foods, said: "By no longer using any antibiotics in our hatcheries or any human antibiotics in feed, we’ve reached the point where 95% of our chickens never receive any human antibiotics, and the remainder receive them only for a few days when prescribed by a veterinarian."
The company said this move is the latest stage in a 12-year evolution in the company’s use of antibiotics.
Jim Perdue, chairman, said: "We listened to our consumers and we are proud to have developed a responsible program that does not risk the medical effectiveness of antibiotics in human health, provides appropriate health care for animals and does not employ growth-promoting drugs. While treating illness is a responsible part of animal care, we believe human-approved antibiotics should not be used to boost production or in place of responsible animal husbandry or hatchery management.
"Moving away from the conventional use of antibiotics in animal agriculture means more than taking human antibiotics out of your programs. You have to develop programs from breeder operations, through the hatchery and feed mill and onto the farm that are sustainable without that use."