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Why Chick-fil-A Changed Its Chicken Policy from 'No Antibiotics Ever'

The fast food giant announced that it would be reversing course to allow some antibiotics in its chicken, a policy called No Antibiotics Important To Human Medicine (NAIHM)

<p>Chick-fil-A</p> Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich

Chick-fil-A is changing its policy and will now allow some antibiotics in its chicken, beginning this spring.

On Thursday, the chicken sandwich chain wrote in a statement that it would be switching from its "no antibiotics ever" pledge to a process called "no antibiotics important to human medicine," or (NAIHM).

"To maintain supply of the high-quality chicken you expect from us, Chick-fil-A will shift from No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) to No Antibiotics Important To Human Medicine (NAIHM) starting in the Spring of 2024," Chick-fil-A said in a statement on its website.

"NAE means no antibiotics of any kind were used in raising the animal," the company added. "NAIHM restricts the use of those antibiotics that are important to human medicine and commonly used to treat people, and allows use of animal antibiotics only if the animal and those around it were to become sick."

The company added that it would serve "real, white breast meat with no added fillers, artificial preservatives or steroids," and reaffirmed that it would use chickens raised in accordance with their Animal Wellbeing Standards.

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The fast food chain was experiencing problems acquiring enough antibiotic-free chicken to meet demands.

"As we looked to the future, the availability of high-quality chicken that meets our rigid standards became a concern," a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A tells PEOPLE. "This change enables us to not only ensure we can continue to serve high-quality chicken, but also chicken that still meets the expectations our customers count on us to deliver."

The chain first announced that it was committed to selling antibiotic-free chicken in 2014, and that it planned to sell chicken that hadn't been exposed to antibiotics within five years, per USA TODAY. The company met its goal by 2019.

Chick-fil-A's announcement also comes less than a year after meat producer giant Tyson said that it would also be reversing its NAE policy, according to CNN, instead changing course to allow some antibiotics in their chicken. At the time of its announcement, the company noted that about half of all chicken producers in the U.S. use antibiotics when raising their poultry.

Antibiotics were first used by farmers raising livestock to decrease the spread of bacteria in animals, such as Salmonella, according to the CDC. They were also used to promote growth in livestock, but the practice ended officially in 2017. Despite this, antibiotic-resistant bacteria has still become a growing concern in livestock.

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"When microorganisms become increasingly resistant to antimicrobial drugs, the drugs become less effective at slowing or stopping the growth of the microorganisms," according to the FDA. "This makes it more difficult to treat infections in people and animals. When antimicrobials are used excessively or inappropriately, the rate of this resistance grows."

Organizations like the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine have attempted to combat these issues by creating a plan to limit antibiotic resistance in animals.

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Read the original article on People.