On Monday evening, I received a message from Chick-fil-A executives. I have been in contact with them for over a year and a half, consulting with them on the top priorities of consumers and on healthy ingredient changes. They said they had some big news coming the next day and that I would be very interested.
Not only was I interested, but when the news hit, I screamed so loud that every neighbor within a mile radius must have heard me. And then tears of joy started rolling down my face. This week has been intense, and to say I am running on fumes is an understatement. Between all of the press, TV, print and radio interviews regarding the Subway announcement, I have had little to no rest.
This news was even bigger than I ever imagined. Chick-fil-A publicly committed to become antibiotic-free within 5 years. A bold move for a major fast food company that serves only chicken and that told me this was nearly impossible when I met with them at their headquarters in 2012.
My #1 Request: Chick-fil-A Go Antibiotic-Free
During my meeting with them back in October 2012, we discussed a laundry list of concerns I had with their menu items – everything from MSG in their famous sandwich, to artificial food dyes, to TBHQ, and GMOs. During our discussion in their boardroom, they asked me to prioritize the list of requests. I told them eliminating artificial food dyes would be a quick change to implement, but my number one request on the list was to provide safer and more sustainable chicken that is raised without antibiotics and GMO feed.
Even though they are not going fully organic or non-GMO, this commitment is significant. This will help to reduce the common practice of using antibiotics to quickly fatten chickens and keep them “healthy” in unsafe conditions. This is important because the more we use antibiotics in our environment, the less impact they will have on us when it comes to treating certain superbugs. The widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed is responsible for creating new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, that could, frankly, wipe out the human race if we don’t start doing something about it now.
Chick-fil-A has indicated they will be working with their current suppliers to make the transition, rather than source antibiotic-free meat that might already be available. This strategy gives me some heart ache. I’d like to see them move faster than 5 years and hope they will be able to influence their suppliers (think Tyson, Perdue, etc.) to move faster or at least consider using other suppliers who are not using antibiotics in the meantime. Regardless, their decision to make this switch will have an enormous impact on the fast food industry and put pressure on other major chains to finally do the right thing. (Note – “Eat Fresh” Subway does not provide antibiotic free meat!)