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Last Wednesday Tyson Foods said it would no longer sell antibiotic loaded chicken to consumers.  This move was prompted to "provide mainstream consumers with products they want."  I have written a couple of articles like this in the past and it never ceases to amaze me that little moves like this from large companies get this kind of publicity.  It’s obvious that Tyson is feeling the competition from smaller farms and is planning to leverage their economies of scale to undercut these farms with their own version of "natural" chicken.  Sure, consumers may be (and I stress may be) eating a healthier chicken, but the issues that plague our food system are perpetuated.  This switch does nothing to address animal welfare, animal waste entering waterways, worker safety and the list goes on.   This is purely profit driven move.  It’s no wonder why in 2000 they were listed as one of the top ten worst corporations.

Tyson is planning to spend $17 million to advertise it’s new "antibiotic" free chicken (In my head I picture the packaging depicting a small farm with happy animals roaming about).  That is a bunch of cash to set aside for just advertising, think about the things they could do to make their business more sustainable and responsible with that money!?  The guy that runs Tyson Foods, Richard L. Bond, says that the company’s move to antibiotic free chicken should not lose money and they hope to see an increase in chicken sales.   Personally, I would think that if they changed their business practices and made a genuine commitment to corporate stewardship, animal welfare, the environment, worker safety, etc., Tyson Foods would actually be able to sell less chickens with more profit margin.

Here’s the story (nytimes)

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Comment by Megan
2007-06-26 11:44:18

That is an interesting piece of information. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people (mostly women) being told by their doc’s to stop eating chicken with hormones because they keep getting migraines from it…now they can buy Tyson, although the other issues you mentioned should be equally as important. Hopefully a step in the right direction of where they should be going, but sadly you’re probably right that the reasons behind the change won’t really lend themselves to the rest of what should happen…

Comment by eric
2007-06-26 21:40:16

I hope you’re right. I would really like to see Tyson and other companies like them do the right thing. Right now all I see is Tyson trying to price undercut other farms that are doing just that. Thanks for the comment Meg.

Comment by eric
2007-06-26 21:42:23

Also, thanks for the information on migraines and their link to antibiotics in chicken (I would assume other animals as well)…I did not know that.

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