(Reuters) - Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N), the largest U.S. poultry producer, plans to eliminate use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by September 2017, one of the most aggressive timetables yet set by an American poultry company.
The Arkansas-based chicken and meat company also said Tuesday it is working on ways to curtail such on-farm drug practices at its other protein businesses, which include pork and beef.
The move marks the latest push by the livestock and food industries to reduce the use of antibiotics crucial to human health in meat production.
Public health experts and federal regulators are concerned that routine feeding of antibiotics to animals could spur creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in humans, creating a health hazard.
Tyson's move will help the company meet a deadline recently outlined by McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) for its U.S. restaurants to gradually stop buying chicken raised with human antibiotics over the next two years.
But Tyson's timetable was not synchronized with that of McDonald's, to which Tyson is a leading chicken supplier, Chief Executive Donnie Smith said on a conference call Tuesday.
The shift away from human antibiotics in its poultry business is not expected to change Tyson's costs, the company said, and is part of an ongoing effort that goes beyond McDonald's.
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