Chick-Fil-A's 'No Antibiotics Ever' Promise Is No More

Promises are made to be broken, as the saying goes, and where advertising is concerned, is there ever any doubt? Companies often promise the moon but seldom deliver. To be fair, though, Chick-fil-A did actually mean what it said in 2014 about eliminating all antibiotics from its chicken within the next five years, and it seems to have kept this promise from 2019 up through the present. The brand is even being upfront about disclosing its recent change to that policy.

As announced on Chick-fil-A's website, in spring 2024, the chain will switch from a No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) policy to a No Antibiotics Important To Human Medicine (NAIHM) policy. This means that, while the chicken it serves may have been given antibiotics, these will only have been used to treat or prevent illness. While Chick-fil-A failed to provide a lengthy explanation for this change in policy, the statement indicates that it's related to the restaurant's supply chain. Relaxing its standards, after all, will likely open up a wider range of purchasing options.

Chick-fil-A isn't the only company to rescind such a promise

Less than a year after Chick-fil-A announced that it would be ditching antibiotics in 2014, Tyson — the nation's largest poultry producer — followed suit. In 2023, however, Tyson beat the fast food chain to the punch when it dropped "no antibiotics ever" from its labels. One of the driving factors behind this change may have been the avian flu that sent the price of eggs skyrocketing in 2022 and endangered the entire poultry industry. Antibiotics, it seems, may be a necessary evil if consumers want a sufficient supply of either the chicken or the egg.

Panera, too, appears to be walking back its no-antibiotics policy, as well as certain others that promise vegetarian-fed, pasture-raised meats. Even signs touting the chain's commitment to animal welfare are being removed from its stores, per company documents acquired by Reuters. Unlike Chick-fil-A, which is a chicken-focused chain, Panera's changing standards also affect the pork, beef, and turkey products used in its soups, sandwiches, and salads. As the new policies allow for non-pastured cattle, pigs, and turkeys treated with antibiotics as needed, and chickens and cows that have been given non-plant-based feed, this should make meat products easier for the chain to purchase.