On October 20th, 2015, Subway announced that they plan to eliminate the use of antibiotics in all its’ meat supplies in all stores throughout America. The company says it plans to have all of their more than 27,000 locations selling antibiotic-free meat beginning in March 2016. At this time, antibiotic-free chicken would be available on the menu. The introduction of antibiotic-free turkey is coming in 2019, and by 2025, pork and beef products sold at stores will be antibiotic-free as well.
Other large food retail chains have started implementing a similar antibiotic free movement. McDonalds has announced that they are on a “journey” to source “Verified Sustainable Beef” starting in 2016. What is verified sustainable beef? Not even McDonalds has completely outlined or defined this yet.
The people of the United States are fortunate to live in a country where food security and safety are being held to the highest of standards, but this will bring never before seen challenges to livestock producers. Are you prepared?
What is driving consumer demand to make such irrational decisions? Today’s farmers do a great job of producing and supplying safe and affordable goods. Packing plants are mandated to have specific withdrawal time windows to ensure that no antibiotic residual remains in the meat when being processed.
The science would prove that today's meat supply is as safe as any resource in the world yet consumers and continuing to drive an evolution to a new food system. Consumers are simply deciding to error on the side of caution. When in doubt, the general public will choose antibiotic free food over the alternative. This alone will force producers to change their management practices in the very near future.
US Livestock farms are producing safe food, but they are missing one key factor….”Traceability”.
As an industry, we have done an extremely good job of producing safe meat for the public but we have created “counterparty risk” by not providing well-documented traceability. One reason for the lack of traceability is that there has been a limited amount of technology resources available for livestock producers. In today’s market, there is a need to help livestock producers prove that the animals raised on their farms were produced in a verifiable and sustainable way. Hence the reason McDonalds is on a journey to source Verified Sustainable Beef.
Start now….get ahead of the curve.
As a livestock producer, start using a farm management program that allows you to track and document how “well” your animals were raised. You will help change the perception of the industry and have the protocols in place on your operation to keep you compliant with future legislation. Farm management systems will improve farm profitability and they will help producers meet the consumer’s demands without having to change the way you raise your animals.
Performance Livestock Analytics is an independent company that is focused on helping livestock producers to remain sustainable and profitable through technology innovation.