Meat Raised Without the Routine Use of Antibiotics Is Going Mainstream

Consumer demand for chicken, turkey, pork, and beef raised without the routine use of antibiotics is growing fast. This is a broad category, encompassing both meat raised without any antibiotics and meat production that eliminates the most risky uses of antibiotics—namely, the mass administration of antibiotics important to human medicine via animal feed or water at low dosages—on animals that are not sick. Motivated by personal health, environmental impacts, animal welfare, taste, and quality concerns, many consumers are seeking alternatives to conventional meat products, which are typically produced with the regular, ongoing use of antibiotics.

Meat products from animals raised without any use of antibiotics already account for around 5 percent of total meat sales in the United States and their market share is growing, transforming the broader marketplace. In addition, production of chicken raised without the routine use of antibiotics has become mainstream. NRDC estimates that more than one-third of the entire U.S. chicken industry has now eliminated or pledged to eliminate routine use of medically important antibiotics.

NRDC has identified companies at the forefront of this market change. These consumer brands, restaurants, and grocery retailers now report sourcing meat from farmers who raise livestock and poultry without relying on routine antibiotics use and are leading the way in making it more readily available to American consumers. Today, these companies successfully and profitably market and sell hundreds of millions of pounds of meat and poultry raised without the routine use of antibiotics each year.