- Perdue Farms Inc. announced it will acquire the parent company of the Niman Ranch brand from LNK Partners.
- The acquisition will expand Perdue's portfolio of antibiotic-free meat products as well as cage-free eggs.
- Perdue, already one of the country's largest chicken processors, has been curbing its own antibiotic use since 2007. Earlier this year, the company said "that 95% of its chickens never receive any antibiotics used to treat human illnesses, and about half of its chickens are raised with no antibiotics at all," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Antibiotics have been a major debate topic for meat producers, farmers, and legislators alike. This year, several companies, such as Tyson Foods and Pilgrim's Pride, have vowed to reduce the use of antibiotics for their meat products. Over the summer, the White House hosted a summit regarding antibiotic use in the food supply as well. Sales for antibiotics used in food animals increased by 20% between 2009 and 2013.
Antibiotics aren't the only concern consumers have for their meat. Hormones and growth promotants are also considered a health risk to some consumers, and they are commonly used to raise livestock. The USDA recently approved a new label that bears language like "produced without ractopamine," which is a beta-agonist, used to make livestock gain weight while eating less in the final weeks before slaughter.
Such wording had been approved for exports, but the same companies that used that label for exports would use ractopamine for domestic animals. Domestic producers have an option to advertise that they do not use the substance in their meat products as well.